|UK Police and customs officers will be able to search for, seize and forfeit criminals' cash under new powers which come into force today.
The provisions contained in the Proceeds of Crime Act, will enable:
* police and customs officers to seize cash, not just at borders, but anywhere in the UK;
* law enforcement officers to search specifically for cash, where it is suspected of being derived from crime or the proceeds of crime;
* seized cash to be retained initially for 48 hours, and longer if authorised by a magistrate;
* magistrates to order the forfeiture of seized cash if they are satisfied it is intended for use in unlawful conduct or is recoverable property;
Home Office Minister Bob Ainsworth said:
"Recovering criminal assets and tackling money laundering are at the heart of the Government's pledge to disrupt organised crime and double the assets recovered from drug traffickers and other major criminals by 2004. The Proceeds of Crime Act will help tackle crime that can blight communities and ruin lives."