UK civil asset forfeitures (CAT) legislation gives police the power to take money and property from people who are not accused of a crime.
But there is a catch: they have to get the money from a private company, and then they can only do that once.
Here’s what you need know about these controversial powers.
First, what is civil asset?
In a nutshell, civil asset is a power that police can use to seize money or property from private companies if they believe the owner has committed a crime, or has committed something that is in the public interest.
Under UK law, police have the power under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1998 to seize and return to private companies a sum of money or goods, or a combination of money and goods.
They are not allowed to use the proceeds to pay for the crime or the crime itself.
Under a criminal law called the Proceeding of Crime (Procurement) Act 2000, police can also take from private firms the proceeds of any crime, including theft and fraud.
It is not legal for police to seize property from companies without first obtaining the consent of the company’s owner.
They must then show a court that there is evidence of the crime.
The power of civil asset seizures has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.
The UK has long used civil asset provisions to target crime, and this has been a significant factor in reducing the number of civil forfeiture cases in recent times.
A key feature of civil-asset forfeiture is that it allows police to take assets from people they suspect of committing a crime and then keep the money and the goods that were taken for themselves.
What happens if the money or the goods are not returned?
Police can make a seizure only once they have a “reasonable belief” that the money, goods or both are “relevant” to the crime charged against them.
But in order to seize the money in question, the police must also have a reasonable belief that there has been “a substantial risk of the person being involved in the commission of the offence”, or that the person has committed the offence with the intention of “adversely affecting the person’s financial interests”.
Under the Proceedings of Crime and Terrorism Act 2000 (PCTA), a police officer may also use civil asset powers to seize “any tangible property or financial asset that the owner is a person who has committed or is likely to commit a serious offence or that has been or is being used in the preparation of the commission, preparation, preparation or instigation of the serious offence”.
Under section 20 of the PCTA, it is not illegal to “use civil asset” powers to bring an asset into the UK, even if the police cannot prove that there was any criminal intent behind the seizure.
However, the powers are subject to strict oversight.
There is no way for police officers to know if an asset is worth more than the money that was seized or the money itself, for example.
If the asset is seized under a power to make an arrest, there is no chance that the police can try to recover the money without the owner’s consent.
There also is no “right of appeal” from the seizure of property, meaning that the asset owner can challenge the seizure as a breach of his or her privacy.
What if the asset has been returned to a private firm?
If police seize money and/or goods under a civil asset power, the money will normally be returned to the company or its employees, who are then obliged to pay it back.
This is called “returning the proceeds”.
The police may then pursue criminal proceedings against the owners of the seized property, and they could be fined.
However the police are allowed to retain the money if the person who took it voluntarily gives them their consent.
If a person refuses to pay their money back, police are required to bring criminal proceedings.
If they are successful, the person can be convicted of a criminal offence, and the police could be forced to return the money to them.
This can happen even if an owner gives the police permission to keep the property for a period of time.
Under the PPTA, an owner who refuses to give consent for a police power to seize a property could be subject to a fine.
If someone is arrested under a criminal statute, they could face a maximum fine of £2,000, and a maximum prison sentence of six months.
This means that people who refuse to give their consent to seizure of assets under a PCTAs powers could face up to five years in prison.
If an owner fails to give his or a property owner’s permission to seize assets under civil asset law, the owner could be charged with a criminal offense.
This could lead to a maximum jail term of up to two years, as well as a fine of up