The Regional Economic Crime Unit (RECU) uses financial investigation techniques to disrupt serious and organised criminals. The detectives and Accredited Financial Investigators work in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and government departments from the UK and abroad to bring criminal prosecutions and regulatory disruption.
RECU use the Proceeds of Crime Act to deny criminals the profits from their crimes through confiscation and forfeiture.
They have four key work streams:
Investigating organised crime groups who use fraud to offend against vulnerable victims in an orchestrated and prolific way.
Conducting proactive money laundering and confiscation investigations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. They can investigate the offences that have generated the money, such as trafficking and drugs supply, and even if a criminal prosecution is not possible they can seek the forfeiture of cash and bank accounts that are the proceeds of crime.
Focusing on ensuring compliance with confiscation orders made by the court after a criminal conviction. This includes pursuing individuals that seek to avoid payment or conceal their assets. Where necessary they will enforce the sale of property through a receiver and if the criminal does not comply they will seek further imprisonment through a sentence for defaulting on the order. The money confiscated is used to compensate victims and invested in local crime prevention work.
Civil Recovery powers were extended by the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and the RECU works with the Crown Prosecution Service to use them. Through the High Court the proceeds of crime can be taken from a suspected criminal even when a prosecution is not possible.
RECU also helps coordinate economic crime law enforcement activity across the South West to protect victims and prevent people and organisations being able to commit offences.
As well as the five regional police forces, the RECU works closely with the National Crime Agency, City of London Police, Immigration Enforcement, and HM Revenue and Customs. They are establishing learning and research partnerships with local universities and engaging with local businesses, especially in the financial services sector.
Where criminals and their assets have moved overseas the RECU works with international police forces and prosecutors through HM Government departments, Europol and Interpol to bring them back to the UK so that justice can be administered.
The RECU also works closely with the Regional Cyber Crime Unit to tackle digitally based economic crime.
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