The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) contains a comprehensive legal framework for the investigation, and the recovery, of the proceeds of crime. The Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA) added to the asset recovery and investigation powers in POCA. The operation of certain powers within POCA, including some of those inserted by the CFA, are subject to codes of practice issued by the Home Secretary, the Attorney General and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice and Scottish Ministers.
The CFA provisions that amended POCA were commenced in England and Wales and Scotland at various stages in 2017 and 2018, but were not commenced in Northern Ireland. The Home Secretary and the Department of Justice have committed to commencing the relevant outstanding provisions of the CFA in Northern Ireland as soon as possible in 2021. It is important to note that the CFA amendments will not be commenced in Northern Ireland until the relevant secondary legislation is passed in Parliament and by the Northern Ireland Assembly and that this cannot proceed until the relevant codes of practice are ready to be brought into operation.
POCA provides that when a code of practice is issued or revised, the relevant authorities must prepare and publish a draft, consider any representations made and modify the codes, as appropriate. The codes must then be laid before Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly (as appropriate) for approval. This consultation is on the codes of practice issued by the Department of Justice which provide guidance to constables and accredited financial investigators on the exercise of certain POCA powers in Northern Ireland.
The draft codes of practice for consultation are:
- a revised Code of Practice issued under Section 195T of POCA: Search, Seizure and Detention of Property (Northern Ireland)
- a revised Code of Practice issued under Section 293A of POCA: Recovery of Cash: Search Powers (Northern Ireland)
- a revised Code of Practice issued under Section 377ZA of POCA: Investigations (Northern Ireland)
- a new Code of Practice issued under Section 303I of POCA: Recovery of Listed Assets: Search Powers (Northern Ireland)
The Department would welcome views on the guidance contained in the draft codes of practice, not on the actual CFA/POCA powers. We would welcome comments on any passages that are confusing, ambiguous or lacking in clarity, or if you believe there are gaps.
Please refer to the links in the consultation document or the GOV.UK website consultations section for the consultations on the other codes of practice issued by the Home Secretary and the Attorney General and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland on the exercise of the relevant powers of reserved bodies and prosecution authorities in Northern Ireland:
Office of the Attorney General and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland:
Responses are welcome via the Citizen Space portal or any other format, please see section 6 of the consultation document - https://consultations.nidirect.gov.uk/doj-corporate-secretariat/codes-of-practice-for-northern-ireland-issued-unde/