Consultation on exercise of powers under Proceeds of Crime Act

Monday, 03 April 2023
The UK government is consulting on proposed amendments to several codes of practice under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Dictionary definition of money laundering

The amendments to three existing codes, and the creation of a new one, are being made as a consequence of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill (ECCT) currently passing through the UK Parliament. One of the Bill's effects will be to alter the existing criminal powers under parts 2 to 4 of POCA, and introduce new civil forfeiture powers under part 5 of POCA to increase the recovery of crypto-assets. These powers will also be incorporated into the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) and Terrorism Act 2000.

The relevant codes of practice are:

  • Codes issued under POCA s.47S and s.195S regarding search, seizure and detention of property in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • A new code issued under a section to be inserted into POCA by sch.7 to the ECCT Bill, concerning search powers needed for the recovery of crypto-assets and related items.
  • A code for officers acting under sch.1 to ATCSA.
  • A code governing criminal investigations under POCA s.377. An updated draft of this code was recently consulted on in May 2022 to reflect changes to the unexplained wealth order (UWO) regime made by the Economic Crime, Transparency and Enforcement Act 2022.

The code governing criminal investigations has not yet been approved by parliament. The Home Office intends to bring forward a single revised version of the code reflecting both changes to the UWO regime and powers to increase the recovery of crypto-assets, once the new ECCT Bill has commenced. According to the government's new Economic Crime Plan Part 2 2023-2026, published last week, the Bill will provide ‘additional powers to law enforcement, so they can more quickly and easily seize, freeze and recover cryptoassets which are the proceeds of crime or associated with illicit activity’.

The consultations close on 20 June 2023. Separately, the Home Office also announced in its recent Economic Crime Plan Part 2 that it intends to implement the Law Commission's November 2022 proposals to reform the proceeds of crime regime, as soon as parliamentary time allows.


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