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Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

Part 2: Investigations, prosecutions and other measures

37.The organised crime White Paper proposed a number of new powers to assist SOCA, the police and HMRC in disrupting and dismantling organised criminal groups. Part 2 of the Act includes the following provisions:

  • A power for SOCA staff, police constables and officers of Revenue and Customs, acting under the supervision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (or the new Director of Revenue and Customs Prosecutions), to compel individuals to answer questions or produce relevant documents. Similar powers are already available to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) under the provisions of section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 and ARA under the provisions of sections 357 to 362 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. As with those provisions, Chapter 1 of Part 2 contains safeguards against self-incrimination and the protection of privileged information.

  • Placing the common law practice of ‘Queen’s Evidence’ on a statutory footing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Existing case law provides for sentence reductions for defendants who plead guilty and co-operate with the prosecution of others.

  • Introducing, as part of the sentence that may be imposed on ‘lifestyle criminals’, a new financial reporting order. These orders will impose requirements on offenders to provide, on a regular basis, details of their income, assets and expenditure. The orders would operate for a maximum of 20 years from the point of sentence.

  • Placing existing arrangements for the protection of witnesses and others on a statutory footing. The organised crime White Paper made it clear that if defendants are to co-operate against their co-conspirators, they needed strong assurance in respect of their safety. A review of witness protection arrangements ended in September 2004. That review concluded that the case had not been made out for a national witness protection agency, but instead recommended rationalising witness protection arrangements by consolidating force units on a regional basis and having a central unit to provide assistance nationally to the regional units.

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