To restore Basic Human Rights to the British people and repeal a draconian and manifestly unjust law the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Which Sir Ivan Lawrence QC describes as this “legally complicated, draconian and unjust system”
We petition to restore the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial before punishment and the repeal the Proceeds of Crime Act (POAC)
Sir Ivan Lawrence QC calls the POAC “a law more draconian and manifestly unjust than anything ever devised by a State in modern times”
He continues that this “legally complicated, draconian and unjust system” has come about “mainly because Parliament does not send enough time , or use enough care, in vetting the laws us before it by civil servants and politicians-goaded as they are by the tabloid press with little understanding of the consequences of what they do”
1) Search warrants under POAC.
Warrants under the Proceeds of Crime Act can be issued to ‘the Occupant’. Someone who is merely suspected of involvement in a crime, without any evidence or complaint and without anyone having been charged or convicted of a crime, and any person who lives in an adjacent named property in the same building can have all movable assets seized
The police already have enough power to search and seize property relating to a crime they do not need the wide ranging powers given by the search and seizure warrant under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
2) Restraint Orders
Freeze all non movable assets at the beginning of an investigation, before charge and on suspicion alone. By issuing a Restraint Order the suspect is punished before charge and before trial and prevented from paying for legal advice or assistance to overturn or vary the Restraint Order. If not charged or found innocent at trial the innocent victim is prevented from seeking compensation. This is a gross injustice.
3) Fair Trial
At trial the defendant, unless on State Benefits, is unable to obtain Legal Aid and because their assets are frozen is unable to pay for legal representation or expert witnesses. Justice for the defendant is impossible in these circumstances.
Whilst the Crown has virtually unlimited resources, is adversarial and stands to gain financially from a confiscation order if their prosecution succeeds
4) Confiscation Order
The prosecuting authority receives a cut of the proceeds seized from people convicted and subjected to confiscation orders and senior staff receives bonuses
Sir Ivan Lawrence, QC, says the “manifest injustices” in confiscation proceedings that were compounded by the setting of targets. “Once you start setting targets you are saying, ‘Never mind justice.’ Bodies like RCPO have to make a judgment on the cases they pursue — if they make that judgment on the basis that they will receive a lot of money, it calls into question whether justice is going to be done.
The Proceeds of Crime Act is not necessary as laws already exist for the confiscation or the proceeds of crime and these laws can be extended if necessary.