SCOTLAND’S most high profile police chief is calling for a “gangster tax” to help police forces catch more criminals.
Strathclyde’s Chief Constable, Stephen House, thinks police forces should be able to keep a share of the assets seized from drug barons and criminals.
Currently almost all funds raised by the Crown Office through the Proceeds of Crime Act (Poca) goes to charitable causes.
Since 2007 more than £44million has been seized in Scotland through the confiscation of money, goods and property earned through illegal means.
Mr House said police should be allowed to retain a share of the income and use the money towards extra policing and forensic accountants to tackle organised crime.
He claims the extra money could help the police to “massacre organised crime.”
He said that the “gangster tax” could provide a major source of funding for cash-strapped police forces in Scotland.
He said: “We have all these criminals out there with all this money that they have stolen from law-abiding people.
“It seems daft to me that we have not got all the weapons we need to go after them. Everybody is worried about paying their taxes. But why keep taxing law-abiding people when we could be taxing criminals?
“What we are suggesting is that the money that comes from criminals should go back to catching more criminals.
“It is not for us to decide exactly how much money goes where – and I can’t see why good causes couldn’t benefit, in fact they would end up getting more money if we were more effective at raising Poca cash. Some of the Poca money should go police and some should go elsewhere in law enforcement.”
Mr House wants the police to retain a percentage of funds gained through Poca to build his force’s capacity to catch more criminals.
He said: “If we got to keep some of the Poca money, we and the crown could double, treble or quadruple the size of our investigations teams. We could massacre organised crime.”
The Proceeds of Crime Act was introduced in Scotland in 2002, allowing officers to freeze, seize and confiscate illegal goods from criminals.
In Scotland the Government dishes out the cash through its CashBack for Communities Initiative and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and other ministers are reluctant to give this up.
Mr House said: “If I was John Swinney (Finance Secretary) I would be thinking that in five years time we could rely on £30m, £40m, £50m and £60m a year from criminals. We could give half of it to the police or the crown, whatever percentage you want. That is public money you have saved and can divert somewhere else.”
Since 2007 the Crown Office has taken more than £40 million under the act, almost all of which has gone to good causes.
In 2010 Christopher Cummins of Glasgow had more than £200,000 seized in cash from his car from police investigating a drugs ring.
In 2006 the Crown seized £1.4million from Michael Voudouri from Bridge of Allan, who was failed from four years for a £3m VAT evasion in 2006.
Anthony Kearney and Donna McCafferty, often dubbed as Scotland’s most wanted criminal couple, had almost £1m taken from them in 2011. Kearney was sentenced to two years in prison for money laundering and McCafferty sentences to 250 hours of community service after pleading guilty to benefit fraud at Glasgow Sheriff court in December 2009.
Scottish criminals living overseas have also come under fire this week as it emerged the Crown Office is currently lobbying the Court of Session to issue seizure orders for the “heritable property” of suspected criminals in Spain and elsewhere.
The move, which is being backed by the Scottish Government would mean Spanish villas and other international assets of Scottish gangsters would be seized.
Detective Superintendant John Cuddihy, of Strathclyde Police’s Major Crime and Terrorism Investigation Unit, said: “These guys think of jail as an occupational hazard. But they like to think they can come out and go to their luxury houses at home or bask in Spain drinking Pina Colada’s. When they should be in a high-rise flat, not a penthouse.”