Seizing cash related to drugs offences

07 December 2017

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

A person is suspected of possession with intent to supply and is stopped by the police. The person is found to be in possession of controlled drugs AND a quantity of cash. Can an arrest be made under section 329 of POCA (in addition to the drugs offences) if the money is of a small value, such as £500?

Answer:

An arrest can be made under section 329 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) regardless what amount of money is involved, as long as the elements of the offence, as set out in that section, are satisfied.  However, there is a specified limit in relation to seizing cash under POCA. You would not be able to use the civil procedure under POCA to seize £500 in cash. To seize money as the proceeds of a crime i.e. under POCA, there must be at least £1,000. This minimum sum is created by statute under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Recovery of Cash in Summary Proceedings: Minimum Amount) Order 2006, SI 2006/1699 (document D29768 on PNLD).

However, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) can be used to seize smaller amounts if it is required as evidence of the offence that has been committed, for example, drug dealing, theft or deception.

Whether or not money has any evidential value will need to be considered on a case by case basis and will be dependent on the circumstances in each case.

Sections 19 and 22 can be used to seize and retain cash where you have reasonable grounds to believe that:

the cash has been obtained in consequence of the commission of an offence, or is evidence in relation to an offence; and
it is necessary to seize it in order to prevent the cash being concealed, lost, damaged, destroyed etc.

If the value of cash discovered during a criminal investigation is over £1000, POCA gives officers the power to seize cash. This is a civil process that can run alongside a criminal investigation. Officers should use their discretion and take account of all the circumstances associated with any cash found. Their actions must be proportionate, non-discriminatory, legal, accountable and necessary. If POCA is to be used it would be advisable to liaise with your force Financial Investigations Team first.

We would also advise that you check your force policies for guidance on the seizure of cash and the procedures that should be followed.

The College of Policing have created some guidance which may be of use, you can read it here.

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