Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Bad news for the Serious Organised Crime Agency - good news for Gangsters?

The government's proposed Serious Crime Bill is to target those suspected of drug dealing, money-laundering and human trafficking.

Major criminals could be given new civil orders (Super ASBOs) restricting their involvement in organised crime.

Former deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police John Stalker said: "My view is that criminals should be dealt with under the criminal law and that Asbos, super-asbos as these are being called, are not the answer to heavyweight criminals. They maybe OK for hoodies on the street but they are not for heavyweight criminals. This is sort of an Al Capone bill - you know, if we can't get you on one, we'll get you on another."

Jago Russell, policy officer for civil rights group Liberty, said: "We used to believe in hard evidence and fair trials in this country - now we dispense rapid-fire justice as quickly as the government can develop a catchy four-letter acronym for it. These new orders targeted at the 'Mr Bigs' of the criminal world will likely be as unfair and ineffective as Asbos and control orders before them."

The Serious Crime Bill is also expected to strengthen powers to seize assets such as cash, properties and cars from criminals. Now does this seem familiar? Wasn't that the duty of the totally incompetent Assets Recovery Agency. The same Assets Recovery Agency that recovered just £4.3m since 2003 while spending an embarrassing £18m this financial year alone.

The 200 strong Assets Recovery Agency is to be absorbed into the 4000 strong Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Let us hope this is not the start of another money pit.

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