Thousands in cash seized in Proceeds of Crime raids across Merseyside

TENS of thousands of pounds in cash and cars were seized and more than 50 people arrested by police on the trail of those suspected of living off the proceeds of crime.

Throughout yesterday officers went through more than 50 doors of homes right across Merseyside.

With warrants granted under the Proceeds of Crime Act, they were looking for anything that could have been paid for with “dirty money’”. They were acting mostly on tip-offs from the public, who were tired of seeing suspected criminals living the high-life while seemingly having no legitimate source of income.

In total, officers seized more than £22,000 in cash and five cars.

And 55 people were arrested on suspicion of various crimes including drugs, money laundering and benefit fraud.

Some were spoken to be officers and released last night while others remained in custody and were set to be interviewed again today.

Acting Superintendent Clive Howarth, who led the operation, said: “Our ability to recover assets which have been obtained through crime is a vital tool which also has the potential to remove the incentive to commit crime in the first place.

“There is nothing that undermines public confidence more than seeing people visibly profiting from crime.

“By using the powers given to us by the Proceeds of Crime Act at every opportunity we are ensuring those assets are taken away.

“As a result we are able to target negative role models in vulnerable communities and visibly deprive them of their criminal profits, reducing their power and status within the commu-nity.

“We hope our local commu-nities benefit from knowing we are preventing criminals from enjoying their ill-gotten gains.

“We will continue to work with our partners to pursue the profits of crime in order to strip the criminals of their ill-gotten gains and show that while crime does not pay, the offenders will.

“Over the last three years we have seized £18m worth of assets from criminals.

“These assets may be cash, jewellery or other high value goods.

“We have taken uninsured and unlicensed vehicles off the streets – these vehicles are often used for criminal activity, by taking them off the roads we are preventing further criminal activity.”

The Proceeds of Crime Act was brought in in 2002 to stop criminals enjoying the results after they had been released from prison.