Gangsters face being sent back to jail if they fail to pay back criminal gains

The Law Commission has set out a host of measures to help confiscate an extra £8 million a year from crime bosses' profits

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Police crime scene

Criminals should be sent back to prison if they fail to forfeit their ill-gotten gains, the law commission has recommended.

Its proposal is part of a package of measures designed to recover an extra £8 million a year from convicted criminals through confiscation orders.

The Commission said that criminals jailed for failing to pay up should only be freed on licence when released halfway through their sentences.

This would mean they could be recalled to prison for any continued failure to pay their confiscation orders, which are made personally against a criminal and require them to pay back the proceeds of their crimes.

At present they are released unconditionally, which the Commission said made it difficult to recover their profits from crime.

Professor Penney Lewis, Criminal Law Commissioner, said: “Currently, the confiscation regime is failing both victims and the public. The system isn’t doing its job and allows too many convicted criminals to keep their proceeds of crime.

“Reform is clearly needed. Our proposals would give the courts enhanced power to ensure that fair confiscation orders can be successfully enforced.” 

Her report also recommended that courts should issue “contingent” orders earlier which would give police powers to seize assets if criminals failed to pay back their profits.

Courts should also have powers to impose financial penalties and forfeiture orders before they started trying to confiscate assets, which would enable compensation to be paid earlier to victims.

Defendants appearing before the magistrates’ court should also be required to provide clearer and more detailed evidence of their financial position if they claimed to be unable to pay back the money.

A judge could also pause or reduce the interest on the sum confiscated from the criminal if it was felt it would speed up repayment, said the commission.