The Department of Justice is responsible for four codes of practice for Northern Ireland under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA). POCA is a UK-wide Act designed to provide law enforcement with tools to recover the proceeds of crime. The codes of practice cover the operation of various asset recovery powers under the Act.
Codes of Practice
The codes of practice tailor guidance on the use of POCA powers to Northern Ireland and establish procedural requirements for constables and Accredited Financial Investigators (AFI) exercising their functions under the Act. An AFI is an individual from an agency specified in an Order issued by the Secretary of State under section 453 of POCA (SI 2021 No. 640) who has been accredited and monitored under section 3 of POCA as a financial investigator.
The codes of practice provide important safeguards to ensure that POCA powers and functions concerned are exercised lawfully and in a proportionate, targeted, effective and consistent manner.
The codes of practice issued by the Department of Justice are:
- Section 195T - Search, Seizure and Detention of Property (Northern Ireland)
- Section 293A - Recovery of Cash: Search Powers (Northern Ireland)
- Section 377ZA - Investigations (Northern Ireland)
- Section 303I - Recovery of Listed Assets: Search Powers (Northern Ireland)
POCA has been subject to review and amendment, most recently by the Criminal Finances Act 2017. The commencement of the outstanding provisions of Part 1 of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 in Northern Ireland on 28 June 2021 necessitated a new code of practice - Recovery of Listed Assets: Search Powers (Northern Ireland). The other three codes of practice, first published by the Department of Justice on 1 March 2016, were revised to account for the commencement of relevant provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017. Reserved bodies operating with POCA powers in Northern Ireland should refer to the codes of practice issued by the Secretary of State and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland.
The codes of practice reflect all legislative changes to date and so form a consistent and consolidated manual for those using the powers. They also provide reassurance to the general public and provide information for those who may be affected by the powers.
The four codes of practice apply from 28 June 2021.
The Department of Justice Codes of Practice are available at the publication section of this website.
Codes of Practice issued by the Home Office and by the Advocate General for Northern Ireland are available on the GOV.UK website:
- POCA Codes of Practice under Sections 195S, 292, 303G and 377 of POCA
- Guidance under Section 2A of POCA
- POCA Code of Practice under Section 377A of POCA
Previous versions of the Department of Justice Codes of Practice dated 1 March 2016 have been replaced but are available at the publication section of this website for information.
Any enquiries regarding the codes of practice should be sent to:
Department of Justice
Organised Crime Branch
BT4 3SG or