Irgendeiner

A Magistrate's Concerns About Poca

24 posts in this topic

Bystander ( his blog is at http://www.thelawwestofealingbroadway.blogspot.com/ and well worth reading) has today commented on POCA:

"Cash seizures are close to the heart of those directing the justice system. Most of those seizures are dealt with before magistrates, and many of us still have a feeling of unease about the basic fairness of the proceedings. As the proceedings are civil, no legal aid is available, and those trying to resist the loss of their cash even have to fund their own interpreter. I have seen experienced counsel make mincemeat of confused respondents whose first language is not English, still less legal English. It isn't a fair fight, and perhaps it ought to be."

Need I say more?

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Anonymous bloggers' opinions carry about as much weight as any of our anonymous opinions, unfortunately.

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What are you getting at here?

I for one as a tax paying citizen get pissed off when I see a scally park his brand new BMW or Lexus in the job centre car park near me. Knowing that the neanderthal and his tribe of chav partners and kids who get out its obvious that the car must have been from the proceeds of crime. If he got the car taken from him because he couldnt prove a legal means from which he bought it then fair enough. The same goes for the houses, wads of cash and bling these people often have.

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Anonymous bloggers' opinions carry about as much weight as any of our anonymous opinions, unfortunately.

Cf Sam Goldwyn's comments about oral contracts (mutatis mutandis) ;)

B

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Magistrates operate under strict rules about public expressions of their opinion on aspects of the law, so any magistrate blogger would need to be very careful to hide his or her identity.

Seizing the proceeds of crime is not something which upsets me per se. However, I do feel that it has been a major mistake to allow participants (e.g. and especially police forces) to benefit directly from any such action. The moneys, if not directly returnable to the losers, should go into a special 'pot' to be used for alleviating the impacts of crime, for education, for rehabilitation, community projects.... and administered by non-politicians.

Edited by pabulum

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Magistrates operate under strict rules about public expressions of their opinion on aspects of the law, so any magistrate blogger would need to be very careful to hide his or her identity.

Seizing the proceeds of crime is not something which upsets me per se. However, I do feel that it has been a major mistake to allow participants (e.g. and especially police forces) to benefit directly from any such action. The moneys, if not directly returnable to the losers, should go into a special 'pot' to be used for alleviating the impacts of crime, for education, for rehabilitation, community projects.... and administered by non-politicians.

I think I may have a "friend" who could carry out such duties ;)

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Seizing the proceeds of crime is not something which upsets me per se. However, I do feel that it has been a major mistake to allow participants (e.g. and especially police forces) to benefit directly from any such action. The moneys, if not directly returnable to the losers, should go into a special 'pot' to be used for alleviating the impacts of crime, for education, for rehabilitation, community projects.... and administered by non-politicians.

Agreed. The probation service oversees community payback (unpaid work). Its not allowed to take otherwise paying jobs so is all community projects; clearing overgrown gardens for the elderley, creating a veg garden with raised beds for the disabled, laying patio's at schools etc. The workers are obviously those that would have otherwise been sent to prison (like me) and having done my induction and seen the work they do (quite impressive) I have little dount they would have considerable gain from access to a pot of money to help do more good. It would without doubt be of far more benefit to the community.

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From what I understand POCA can be upheld even without a conviction being made. So that means they can seize assets upon suspicions, then keep those funds indefinitely - even where HMRC are chasing payment too.

This surely isn't right?

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From what I understand POCA can be upheld even without a conviction being made. So that means they can seize assets upon suspicions, then keep those funds indefinitely - even where HMRC are chasing payment too.

This surely isn't right?

I dont know that they can actually take the money before a conviction, they can however freeze all assets and can do that without charges even being brought. Our accounts etc. were all restrained in Jan 2010 and we were not charged until June 23rd 2010. That imo is wrong as if they havent brought charges imo they should not be able to freeze your assets. Your also right that it doesnt stop you being persued by hmrc or other debt collectors as you are still accountable for yours debts.

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I dont know that they can actually take the money before a conviction, they can however freeze all assets and can do that without charges even being brought. Our accounts etc. were all restrained in Jan 2010 and we were not charged until June 23rd 2010. That imo is wrong as if they havent brought charges imo they should not be able to freeze your assets. Your also right that it doesnt stop you being persued by hmrc or other debt collectors as you are still accountable for yours debts.

Of course they should be able to freeze assets, otherwise the criminals would realise they had been rumbeled and get rid of them, it's a bit like saying you can't take the dealers drugs off him till he has been convicted in court.

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Of course they should be able to freeze assets, otherwise the criminals would realise they had been rumbeled and get rid of them, it's a bit like saying you can't take the dealers drugs off him till he has been convicted in court.

If they have evidence of a crime they should get on and bring charges faster and then it wouldnt be an issue. I dont object to restraint orders ones charges have been brought and in your example if a dealer had drugs on them they should have enough evidence to bring charges straight away. To restrain assets before charges are brought is wrong, its meant to be innocent until proven guilty and if they dont have the evidence to bring charges they shouldnt be allowed to restrain assets

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If they have evidence of a crime they should get on and bring charges faster and then it wouldnt be an issue. I dont object to restraint orders ones charges have been brought and in your example if a dealer had drugs on them they should have enough evidence to bring charges straight away. To restrain assets before charges are brought is wrong, its meant to be innocent until proven guilty and if they dont have the evidence to bring charges they shouldnt be allowed to restrain assets

(If you have the time) just read this law report: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/461.html

"They" just take your hard earned, and sit on it. The statute is by no means balanced. This is civil law, so the presumption of innocence has no place at all!

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Of course they should be able to freeze assets, otherwise the criminals would realise they had been rumbeled and get rid of them, it's a bit like saying you can't take the dealers drugs off him till he has been convicted in court.

Dalton

The police can and do hold assets in cases where no charges are ever brought. Of course you can take the dealers drugs off him because the drugs are infact illegal. Cash itself isn't illegal although it might be used in evidence - and then bank statements can be used in evidence, as well as any cash seized too. There have been instances where the police have held assets for several years, without ever bringing legal charges. I'm talking about freezing bank accounts with life savings in them for people who are never charged, nor taken to court. Is that right or fair?

Edited by Strawberry

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Dalton

The police can and do hold assets in cases where no charges are ever brought. Of course you can take the dealers drugs off him because the drugs are infact illegal. Cash itself isn't illegal although it might be used in evidence - and then bank statements can be used in evidence, as well as any cash seized too. There have been instances where the police have held assets for several years, without ever bringing legal charges. I'm talking about freezing bank accounts with life savings in them for people who are never charged, nor taken to court. Is that right or fair?

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Dalton

The police can and do hold assets in cases where no charges are ever brought. Of course you can take the dealers drugs off him because the drugs are infact illegal. Cash itself isn't illegal although it might be used in evidence - and then bank statements can be used in evidence, as well as any cash seized too. There have been instances where the police have held assets for several years, without ever bringing legal charges. I'm talking about freezing bank accounts with life savings in them for people who are never charged, nor taken to court. Is that right or fair?

That reminds me of a case in this area a while back.

As I remember a school (for what reason I'm not sure) searched a girl's bag and found £2000 or so. She was from an East European immigrant family and social services were involved. It turned out she had been, off her own bat and totally not coerced (but for some of the time only 15)working as a WG.

Not good, but she had fooled everyone and the Agency. The police confiscated the money under POCA. I never did get the logic of that. What crime was the money the proceeds of?

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That reminds me of a case in this area a while back.

As I remember a school (for what reason I'm not sure) searched a girl's bag and found £2000 or so. She was from an East European immigrant family and social services were involved. It turned out she had been, off her own bat and totally not coerced (but for some of the time only 15)working as a WG.

Not good, but she had fooled everyone and the Agency. The police confiscated the money under POCA. I never did get the logic of that. What crime was the money the proceeds of?

Here's a link to a news article:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1155502/Suspicious-teacher-exposes-double-life-girl-15-earning-100-000-year-upmarket-prostitute.html

Like you I couldn't understand the logic behind it. The only thing that I could think of at the time was that her parents thought it unwise to contest the case. That would explain whu there was only a very brief hearing at the Magistrates court.

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Here's a link to a news article:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1155502/Suspicious-teacher-exposes-double-life-girl-15-earning-100-000-year-upmarket-prostitute.html

Like you I couldn't understand the logic behind it. The only thing that I could think of at the time was that her parents thought it unwise to contest the case. That would explain whu there was only a very brief hearing at the Magistrates court.

Thanks for the link.

I see the paper went on to collect comment from all the usual suspects re. trafficking & sex-slaves without getting round to stating what crime had been committed.

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The problem is that most 'normal' people do not see a problem with POCA, they always argue that if you are a criminal then you should have your assets seized, and that they must have proof you are guilty to be arresting you.

Believe it or not a lot of people are arrested by the police all the time, for all sorts of reasons and are never charged with any offence. Quite often it's on mere suspicion, or the police simply are a little bored or think it's going to be an easy conviction. Quite innocent folk can be arrested for all sorts of crimes. Then there are many people who live on the fringes of crime. I'm not talking nasty criminals either. Now say your man was found with drugs on him, that were considered over the limit for personal use. Should he have his bank accounts frozen whilst they try and find some evidence of dealing?held indefinitely for several years whilst they try and work out who he has been associated with?That man might have actually just bought a larger supply of weed that week because he'd been offered a good price.

Moving on to prostitution, the police have profited as a result of clients committing the crime of paying a girl under the age of 18. The police also have the powers to arrest WGs who work with other ladies, on suspicion of controlling or running a brothel. In which case they can seize assets and keep them indefinitely, and I don't mean a few months.

At what point do the other posters supporting POCA think they should release funds? Should it after a few months, years or when the defendant is found innocent in a court of law?What if they never bring a case?CPS will not prosecute without enough evidence to secure a conviction. Many times cases are rejected that simply aren't viable because the defendant cannot or will not be found guilty. Some of these defendants are innocent. So should they have their assets seized on pure suspicion(which is often what happens now anyway)?

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By the way Sasha 6 months to conviction isn't a long time, there are cases of assets being held for years without a case being taken to court. Six months is quite reasonable compared to that, and from what I gather is a quite usual period of time for a contested case to be brought. Of course the legal eagles are free to correct me if I am wrong here!

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By the way Sasha 6 months to conviction isn't a long time, there are cases of assets being held for years without a case being taken to court. Six months is quite reasonable compared to that, and from what I gather is a quite usual period of time for a contested case to be brought. Of course the legal eagles are free to correct me if I am wrong here!

Sorry Sacha I didn't read your post properly, it was 6 months until you were charged but still weren't convicted.

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Skipping back a couple of posts...

I can see (and agree with) the logic of freezing assets on arrest, and keeping them frozen if the case proceeds. However I believe that there should be recourse to an external authority (an ombudsmanperson or Magistrates' Court)for the release of funds to pay essential bills and meet the immediate needs of dependents. I'd also go along with putting a time limit on the seizure or freezing, again with the right of enforcement by an ombudsman or lay Court.

I stress the importance of magistrates in all this because they are not paid any salary and have no 'career progression', unlike the judiciary, which has been increasingly politicised and rendered less independent over the past 15 or 20 years.

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It is not just the length of time the police can freeze assets which is worrying. Just why does it take so long to bring a case to court. In how many cases does it really need 6 or more months to collect the evidence (and just why is it necessary to close a main road for hours to take a few pictures of an accident scene)? Unfortunately there is a culture of contempt for the ordinary public amongst public officials and particurly politicians.

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