Government's current treatment of confiscation orders is sending out the wrong message about crime, a report published today has warned.
In particular, the report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the Home Office for routinely missing opportunities to push for confiscation orders, which allow proceeds from crimes to be recouped from somebody who has been convicted.
Just 5,839 orders were imposed in 2015-16, compared with 6,392 in 2012-13.
The MPs also noted that they were unimpressed with the amount actually being recovered from such orders. Numbers from the Home Office suggest that just £190m of the total £1.9bn confiscation order debt has a chance of actually being collected.
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"The number of orders imposed has fallen and, according to unaudited figures provided by the Home Office, only a tenth of the huge debt owed under such orders is realistically collectable," said Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC. "This sends an appalling message to criminals who stand to benefit from crime – and, equally importantly, to their victims and taxpayers.
"Such relatively meagre returns do nothing to alleviate public concerns about crime, nor to encourage the perception that justice is being done."
The Home Office had not responded to City A.M.'s request for comment at time of writing.
Confiscation orders have become somewhat topical for the City after former UBS and Citigroup trader Tom Hayes was told to hand over £878,806 in March after he was convicted for Libor-rigging related offences last August.
An April meeting between the PAC and the Home Office on the topic of confiscation orders came to a dramatic close when Hillier criticised the government representatives for arriving without having done their homework. The meeting had to be rescheduled for a later date.