The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) is debating the draft Police Scotland budget for 2014-2016, which contains a proposal representing a first in Scottish police history: the use of seized proceeds to support policing activities. The idea has come to be known as “gangster tax” and was first put forward in 2012 by Chief Constable Sir Stephen House.
The draft budget envisions an allocation of £16 million from seized cash and assets. This money constitutes a portion of the funds raised under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and will help Police Scotland plug its funding gap in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016, the Herald has reported.
By the end of last April, the amount raised under POCA exceeded £80 million. At present, almost all of it is used to fund initiatives launched under the CashBack for Communities programme. Since 2008, the programme has funded 1.1 million activities that have benefited young people.
A spokesman for Police Scotland said that it had yet to be decided how the police would use their POCA funding. Expectations are that the money will be invested in support for community policing activities, he stated.
When Sir Stephen floated the “gangster tax” idea, he said that criminals were making a fortune by stealing from honest citizens. Taxes are a concern for everyone, so instead of making the burden heavier for law-abiding people, the government should be taxing lawbreakers, he said. However, Sir Stephen also noted that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was not keen on the idea due to concerns that such a funding stream could lead to inappropriate incentives for the police.