Region's criminals forced to pay back more than £2.25m in 2020

Cash seized from Operation Costello in Bedfordshire

ERSOU seized more than £2.25 in money and assets during 2020 - Credit: ERSOU/Bedfordshire Police

Convicted criminals across East Anglia have been forced to pay back more than £2.25million in 2020, it has been revealed. 

Following work by specialist financial investigators from the Eastern Region Special Operation Unit (ERSOU), £2,252,145 in money and assets has been confiscated from criminals convicted of offences such as drug dealing and money laundering. 

In addition, a further £1.3m in compensation was secured for victims who lost money through crimes such as fraud.

Another £623,000 in cash, typically found by officers when searching suspects or undertaking warrants at locations where criminals are believed to operate, was successfully forfeited through court orders.

ERSOU works alongside the region’s police forces to reclaim money and assets from convicted criminals who operate across Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent. 

In May this year, a cannabis manufacturer from Sudbury was ordered to pay back more than £15,000.

Paul Rowan, 42, of York Close, Sudbury, was jailed for two years and four months in August 2019 after police discovered a cannabis factory at his address.

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Officers were able to recover 64 cannabis plants and a large quantity of skunk cannabis as part of the operation in April 2019.

Following his sentence, ERSOU also launched an investigation into Rowan’s finances.

On May 18, he was ordered to pay back the entirety of his assets, worth £15,025, at the conclusion of his confiscation proceedings. 

A couple from Essex delivering Christmas presents were stopped by police in Wales Picture: ARCHANT

A further £1.3m in compensation was secured for victims who lost money through crimes such as fraud

Speaking at the time, Andy Gould, from ERSOU’s regional economic crime unit, said: “This is a fitting outcome to the investigation and illustrates once more that our financial investigation team will continue to work alongside our colleagues at Suffolk police and other regional forces to capture every opportunity to take the profit out of crime.”

In cases where individuals have been the victim of fraud, and where the team has been able to secure funds back from the criminals responsible, money is often given straight back to the victim in compensation.

In situations where criminals do not pay back the money required as part of a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) court order, they face extended periods in jail and are still required to pay back the full amount.
 
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Williams, head of the regional economic crime unit, said: “Our teams have been working relentlessly throughout the year to pursue those we know have profited from illegal means, often through activity such as drug dealing which have far reaching consequences throughout our communities.
 
“POCA investigations can often be protracted and complex, but the dedication of our teams to take back the money acquired by criminals through causing misery demonstrates how just how committed we are to ensuring offenders pay the price for their actions, even if they’ve already been convicted.
 
“Even when offenders have spent the money on things such as gambling, the team work with those companies to secure whatever they can to compensate the victims.
 
“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their tenacity and hard work throughout this incredibly challenging year.”

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