Richard Broadbent said: “Customs and Excise deals with some of the most serious criminals in the United Kingdom. They are in it for the money and taking it away hurts them. I particularly welcome the Government’s proposal for wider civil forfeiture powers which will help us deal with both the proceeds of drug trafficking and the money to finance it”.

Notes to Editors

1. In the 1999/2000 year Customs and Excise deprived criminals of #14.8 million, compared to #11.1 million in 1998/1999.

2. Customs Officers have the power to seize cash of #10,000 or more at the ports and airports which is alleged to be the proceeds of, or to be used to finance, drug trafficking. The cash is forfeited to Customs and Excise if the Magistrates agree it is linked with drug trafficking. In 1999/2000 £4.4 million of cash at the ports and airports was forfeited.

3. Once a drug trafficker is convicted Customs and Excise can apply for a confiscation hearing before the same judge, to obtain a confiscation order against possible money and assets the criminal has. If the confiscation order awarded by the Court is not paid the criminal will serve extra time on their sentence. In 1999/2000 we realised £2.8 million from confiscation orders.

4. We can also seek a confiscation order from the court in tax fraud or smuggling cases, to seize assets from a convicted criminal to compensate Government for the tax that has been stolen. In 1999/2000 we obtained £7.2 million from confiscation orders made in excise smuggling or fraud cases (largely tobacco or alcohol) and about £400,000 from VAT fraud cases.

5. The proposals in the PIU report will build upon and enhance the powers Customs Officers and Investigators have to seize from criminals their money and assets.

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