For second successive year police force recovers over £10 million from criminals

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Following successful forfeiture investigations and proceedings, Greater Manchester Police’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU) has successfully recovered over £11.2 million in this tax year.

The ECU is made up of a number of specialist teams who all target different areas of criminal finances to ensure that their funds are removed.

This comes after a record-breaking year for their ECU as last tax year they recovered £13.7 million – and the unit is in a good position to continue this success and break more records in the coming years.

The recovered money comprises:

– Over £5 million from the Account Freezing Order Team (AFO), by conducting civil investigations the team freeze suspected criminal funds in bank accounts and these are then forfeited at court.

– £3.5 million from the Asset Detention and Recovery Unit (ADRU) who won the Annual GMP Chief Constable’s Award for ‘Team of the Year’ in 2021, they deal with the seizures of cash and listed assets by conducting civil investigations following seizures of cash and assets by other teams in the Economic Crime Unit – with a view to forfeiting seized cash and assets which is then invested back into the community.

– Over £2 million from the Confiscation and Restrain Unit – this is made up of financial investigators who restrain assets such as houses and then seek confiscation orders after criminal conviction.

The Money Laundering Team conduct proactive and reactive investigations– following arrests the money makes its way to the ADRU and AFO teams to secure the illicit finances through convictions in court.

Operation Falcon created in May 2022 is GMP’s specific operation in response to cash couriers. These are seizures conducted by the Money Laundering Team and these are ultimately forfeited to contribute towards the £10 million total.

Almost half of the money forfeited from criminals and suspected offenders returns to GMP through the Asset Recovery Incentive Scheme (ARIS); a Home Office led programme, this money is re-invested into community programmes and charities across Greater Manchester, as well as funding policing programmes and operations to continue fighting crime.

Examples of community initiatives that have received ARIS funding last year:

  • Fitton Hill Bulldogs Community Sport Centre in Oldham will use the funding to purchase an additional disability hoist within the clubhouse building, complete pitch drainage of 1 full size rugby pitch and 1 full size football pitch and will support pavilion refurbishments and strengthen external security provisions at the site.
  • GetAwayNGetSafe (GANGS) project which delivers early intervention aimed at young people to challenge attitudes towards gang culture, knife carrying and social responsibility. This has already been implemented at 20 schools in Moss Side, Wythenshawe and Longsight and due to its success, the funding is being used to roll this out across further areas.

Non-profits which benefit a large number of people can apply for a maximum of £20,000 to fund 12 months’ activities. The activities must support GMP’s objectives to fight, prevent and reduce crime; keep people safe; and care for victims.

More information about ARIS funding applications can be found here: Giving back: Investing in our community | Greater Manchester Police (

Detective Superintendent Joe Harrop who leads the Economic Crime Unit, says:

“As a team we continue to create more innovative ways to recover criminal assets and GMP is one of the leading forces in the UK for seizing and recovering criminal funding.

“Just under half of the money is returned to GMP through the Home Office ARIS funding scheme which is used to fund local initiatives and charities – this shows that the money recovered is used to benefit the communities across Greater Manchester.

“We have a number of highly skilled police officers and staff across a number of teams that make up the Economic Crime Unit, who collectively use a variety of options available under the Proceeds of Crime Act, including cash seizure powers, listed asset powers (such as seizing high value jewellery, watches and artwork) and bank account freezing orders.

“However well-hidden the cash and assets are – we will seize, recover and forfeit criminal funds to ensure that the money is not used to further serious and violent criminality in Greater Manchester.

“Let this be a stark reminder to anyone who believes that they can use illegitimate finances to fund their criminality – we will find it, forfeit it and reinvest that money back into the communities across Greater Manchester.

“Stripping criminals of their finances has a substantial impact on crime – I hope this figure serves as a reminder that tackling economic crime is a relentless task – our teams will continue to work diligently behind the scenes to ensure that those involved in criminal behaviour are brought to justice and pay the price for their crimes.”

“If you see, or suspect something is wrong, tell us, and we can sort it.”

Anyone with concerns or information about suspicious financial activity, should report to police online, if able, at or via 101.

Details can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Page last updated Monday 5th December, 2022 at 0750hrs

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Picture credits: IOPC

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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