Can the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 be used in planning enforcement cases?
Absolutely. Here are a few examples where Councils have successfully obtained confiscation orders for the proceeds an offender has obtained as a result of his criminal conduct:
Hounslow Council in February 2010 obtained a confiscation order for c.£180k for flat conversions.
In June 2010 Bishop Stortford Council obtained a confiscation order for £760k for a park and ride facility.
Bexley Council in May 2011 originally obtained a confiscation order for c.£180k for proceeds from the sale of cars from the defendant's home but this was then reduced to £3k.
Richmond Council in November 2011 obtained a confiscation order for c.£110k against a defendant for converting 3 houses into 16 flats
Brent & Harrow in September 2012 obtained a confiscation order for £1.4m for converting a single house into flats.
Runnymede in September 2012 obtained a confiscation order for £250k for using green belt land for commercial purposes.
In January 2013 South Bucks DC obtained a confiscation order for c.£33k for unlawful operation of a car park in the Green Belt.
Ealing Council in August 2013 obtained a £11k confiscation order for the illegal use of an outhouse building as rental property.
Borough of Poole prosecuted for the felling of a tree protected by a TPO. Defendant was fined £75k and a confiscation order was made in the amount of £50k. Upheld on appeal in June 2013.
In October 2013 Barnet Council obtained a confiscation order in the amount of £75k for converting 2 houses into flats.
In December 2013 Haringey Council obtained a confiscation order for £310k against a landlord who unlawfully rented out his property as a House in Multiple Occupation. The defendant was also ordered to pay the Council's costs of £12k.
Why should a Council consider a proceeds of crime strategy?
If successful, confiscation deprives a criminal of ill gotten gains
It ensures that crime doesn't pay and is not seen to pay
It helps meet the expectations of legitimate businesses and consumers
How can a Council justify additional spend on pursuing a proceeds of crime strategy in light of budget cuts?
If confiscation orders are successful, a Council can recover up to 37.5% of the confiscated amount. Only a small number of POCA cases are needed to ensure that Planning Enforcement is entirely self-funded.
Where does Ivy Legal fit in?
The service could include as much or as little as is required by a local authority. We can develop a strategy for effective use of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and then also carry out the strategy to ensure that the Enforcement service is eventually self-funded. We can do investigations, drafting reports for authorisation, successfully prosecute, and obtain Confiscation Orders from the Crown Court.
Our aim is to ensure that Planning Enforcement is carried out as efficiently as possible so as to act as a disincentive for would-be offenders, thereby reducing the need for future planning enforcement.
See also general Q&A