The confiscation of criminal assets by the Courts forms a key part of efforts to tackle the criminal economy and crime more generally. Seizing and confiscating the proceeds of crime has a number of benefits:
- it raises the actual and perceived risks of committing crime
- it visibly deprives criminals of their profits, reducing their power and status within the community
- it prevents profits from crime being reinvested into further criminality, or tainting the legitimate economy
- fundamentally, justice is served in that people are not allowed to profit from crime and this is seen to be the case
The Home Office commissioned a previous opinion poll in January 2009 to capture public awareness of, and attitudes towards, asset recovery. Results from this opinion poll were generally supportive of asset recovery. To ascertain if and how awareness and opinions have been changing, the Home Office repeated the poll in December 2009.
In addition to the questions on asset recovery, a number of new questions were asked to capture public perception of the community cashback scheme. Community cashback was launched during the summer of 2009 in England and
Wales, designed to give local people a say in how the money of recovered criminal assets (for example, confiscated cash or property) should be spent in the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour in their communities.
The scheme aimed to:
- raise the profile of asset recovery as an important tool in disrupting and preventing criminal activity and taking the cash out of crime by seizing criminals’ illegally acquired gains
- give local people more of a say in how the recovered assets can be reinvested within their neighbourhoods and communities
- boost public confidence in criminal justice services and demonstrate that justice is being done by making sure that people can see it being done in their area
This paper outlines the findings from this latest opinion poll.