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Monday, July 13, 2020


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Craig Fletcher

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002: The impact on desistance and the legitimacy of punishment

This study aims to unveil the impact of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA 20002) on the defendant and their wider families. The POCA 2002 is a piece of legislation that was designed to close the legal loopholes of previous legislation and to increase the effectiveness of enforcement strategies in the fight against organised crime with a particular focus on drug trafficking offences. The main objectives of the POCA are to deny criminals the ‘pleasure’ of their ill-gotten gains, disrupt criminal enterprise, deter future criminality and reassure the public that crime does not pay (NAO 2013 p5).

Those failing, unwilling or unable to satisfy a confiscation order will be given an additional prison sentence for fine default. This period of incarceration does not expunge the debt, and an individual could continue to be re-incarcerated as the realisable amount increases with interest. The POCA has some very distinctive features which have been described as draconian and allows for the application of this legislation to manoeuvre around due process, the corner stone of the British criminal justice system. Examples include: the reversal of the burden of proof compromising a defendant’s right to remain silent and the removal of gross proceeds of crime and not net profit.

The distinct lack of awareness and knowledge in this area means there is very little literature or debate taking place in relation to its application and impact on those subjected to a confiscation order. This project aims to address these shortfalls and make an original contribution to the field by highlighting the impact of the POCA legislation on both the offender and their wider families at a time when confiscation legislation is being strengthened (The Serious Crime Act 2015) and the recovery of proceeds is being incentivised and marketized, heightening the research relevance and necessity.


Research Degree: PhD, Full-time
Department: HLSS
Funded: Manchester Metropolitan University