DORSET Police have vowed to continue ‘depriving criminals of their proceeds of crime’, as figures show they seized more than £160,000 last year.

Home Office figures show Dorset Police took cash and assets worth £164,200 in 2020-21.

To prevent people reaping the benefits of a criminal lifestyle, courts can use sentencing powers to hand down confiscation orders, while authorities can also use civil powers to deprive offenders of the proceeds of crime.

Of this, £117,700 was obtained through confiscation orders, with officers deploying civil powers to take another £46,500 in cash and assets away from offenders.

Detective Inspector Andrew Kennard, of Dorset Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “The Economic Crime Unit is committed to maximising the use of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and other legislation to recover criminal assets in accordance with Force priorities, and specifically in order to seek to compensate victims of crime and deprive criminals of their proceeds of crime, including assets denied and recovered from criminals.

“As the way that criminals seek to conceal their ill-gotten gains evolves in an increasingly technical world, we are also working with our partners from the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) and are building on our knowledge and successful recovery of crypto-assets to achieve these aims.

“We hope this continued work sends a message to offenders that we will do all we can to ensure any financial gain from their criminal activities is taken from them and victims who have lost out are compensated.”

The total collected by the force under the Proceeds of Crime Act was down from £796,400 the year before.

Police forces in England and Wales collected around £96 million in 2020-21, down from £101 million the previous year.

The use of civil powers to seize cash and assets increased while there was a sharp drop in the amount paid via confiscation orders.

The overall amount collected by police and other authorities in confiscation order receipts was at its lowest level in six years, with increased amounts seized via forfeitures reflecting a widespread shift from the use of criminal to civil powers.

But experts say significant disruption to the criminal justice system due to the coronavirus pandemic also contributed to the national drop.

Jury trials were halted and many magistrates' courts closed due to pandemic restrictions, leading to a reduction in the number of orders made.

Courts also prioritised trials for the most serious offences, meaning fewer acquisitive crime cases were heard last year.