Paper Launch: A Civil Approach to Tackling Criminal Finances

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The Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy 2018, launched in November 2018, makes a bold commitment that they will use “new and improved powers and capabilities to identify, freeze, seize or otherwise deny criminals access to their finances, assets and infrastructure”. 

This approach forms part of a long-standing global policy imperative which acknowledges that prison sentences have only a limited impact against criminality in the longer term; using powers which remove wealth from the criminal economy serves to undermine the criminal business model, act as a deterrent to further criminality and serve a moral obligation to demonstrate that ‘crime doesn’t pay’.

This RUSI occasional paper explores the extent to which the UK is making best use of one of its most robust powers available in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 which allows designated ‘enforcement authorities’ to target unlawfully obtained assets in the absence of a criminal conviction. Known in the UK as ‘civil recovery’, a greater spotlight has been shone on these powers in the past year following the implementation of Unexplained Wealth Orders, which dock into the existing civil recovery legislation and enforcement architecture. 

This paper will explore the extent to which these powerful tools are being used to best effect in the fight against serious and organised crime.


Helena Wood, Associate Fellow, RUSI and author of the paper.

Mick Creedon, Former Chief Constable and National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) lead on Proceeds of Crime.

Michael Bowes QC, Outer Temple Chambers. 

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor Proceeds of Crime 

Time: Coffee and pastries from 9:30am. Event Start 10am.

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