Policies and procedures

Find out about the policies and procedures that outline how we work

Proceeds of crime policy

About this policy

This policy explains how Trading Standards will approach financial investigations. It is primarily aimed at those staff who investigate criminal offences and those who have been accredited by the National Crime Agency as Financial Investigators.

Essex Trading Standards recognises that the utilisation of the powers provided by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) can make a significant contribution to the disruption of criminal enterprises that are to the detriment of Essex consumers and businesses. 

This consists primarily of:

  • money laundering investigations alongside criminal investigations
  • confiscation investigations with the aim to recover criminal assets

Essex Trading Standards is therefore committed to maintaining a fraud/ financial investigation unit (FIU), incorporating money laundering and confiscation capability to tackle offenders at all levels of criminal activity.

General principles

In considering the need for utilising the powers under POCA, we have taken account of:

  • the contribution to local crime and disorder strategies and other corporate priorities
  • the need to consider pre-conviction orders as part of the prosecution process in connection with money laundering investigations and the need to consider post-conviction orders as part of confiscation investigations
  • the disruption and investigation of ‘lifestyle criminals’ such as those who commit fraud, counterfeiters, persistent rogue traders and those who have benefitted financially from their crimes
  • the potential to raise the profile of the service
  • the need to ensure that crime doesn’t pay and is seen not to pay
  • helping to meet the expectations of legitimate businesses and consumers

Essex Trading Standards will promote the use of financial investigations as an integral part of criminal investigations. 

Acquisitive crime describes offences where the perpetrator derives material gain from the crime, known as criminal benefit.  Criminal benefit is any property (including currency) or pecuniary advantage obtained as a result of conduct that is an offence in England or Wales or would be an offence if it occurred in England and Wales.

When a person has benefited from their crime, the first objective is to secure a criminal conviction. A successful prosecution can lead to confiscation, which is not just for serious criminals but applies in most cases where a criminal benefit has been obtained.  

Confiscation proceeding will, if possible, remove the benefit of that crime and dissuade others from trading illegally.

Our investigators should be aware of the opportunities for money laundering and confiscation proceedings, which are undertaken by Financial Investigators of the FIU. They should also have an awareness of the actions they can take to support these processes.

Investigators should seek advice from a financial investigator when an investigation is started to determine whether a parallel money laundering investigation is appropriate. Investigators are reminded that as the investigation progresses, reconsideration of the suitability of a financial investigation may become appropriate.

Referral of investigations to the FIU can result in the true extent of the criminal activity being uncovered, the correct perpetrators being prosecuted and enable recovery of assets and criminal benefit, thereby enabling the deterrent aspect of POCA.  All of which assist in deterring and reducing crime. 

Compliance with this policy and any linked procedure is mandatory.

Statement of policy

Essex Trading Standards Financial Investigation Unit (FIU) will financially investigate all cases where there are alleged offences or convictions for offences of an acquisitive crime.

The FIU will consider confiscation investigations following convictions of acquisitive offences with a view to making an application to a court for a confiscation order to be made to the value of the benefits derived from the crimes.

Referrals to the FIU will be considered on merit by the FIU, but will be prioritised with reference to one or more of the following factors:

  • propensity of the defendant(s) to commit offences nationally or throughout the eastern region
  • where the victims are deemed to be particularly vulnerable or at risk from the defendant(s) criminality
  • where the criminal investigation would struggle to deal with the defendant, or their offending effectively, without the FIU’s parallel support
  • where financial benefit from the defendant’s criminality is clearly significant
  • the use of nominal orders may also deter defendants from re offending

A nominal order can be made where the defendant has no assets to satisfy a confiscation order but has benefitted from their offending.  A nominal order records the benefit made and provides a method to reassess the available amount in the future should the defendant subsequently have the assets to repay his debt.

Implications of the policy

Financial implications

A proportion of the amounts confiscated under POCA  is returned to the Authority under the incentive scheme operated by the Home Office. Any funds received through the scheme must be used for the further prevention or reduction in crime or further asset recovery.  This money is ringfenced.

Staffing and training

All Financial Investigators receive training from the Proceeds of Crime Centre (POCC), part of the National Crime Agency. This training and subsequent workbook / portfolio or evidence must be completed before full accreditation is awarded. 

Accreditation is maintained through the completion of CPD and provision of evidence to POCC which is uploaded via the Financial Investigation Support System (FISS) website.

Financial Investigation awareness training should form part of Essex Trading Standards routine training and development programme for management and investigation personnel.

Managers do not necessarily require the level of training and awareness provided by financial investigation-specific courses. However, it is essential that two managers are familiar with the procedures relating to financial investigation and are designated a Senior Appropriate Officer, by the National Crime Agency. 

Existing partnership agreements

There are many law enforcement agencies that conduct financial investigations. Essex Trading Standards will actively work with these agencies to ensure it maximises the effective use of the powers provided by POCA. 

Some of these organisations are:

  • Essex Police
  • National Crime Agency (NCA)
  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • The Consumer and Markets Authority (CMA)
  • Other local authorities (Corporate Fraud)
  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • UK Border Agency
  • Post Office Investigation Unit

Risk assessments

This policy is compliant with the requirements of health and safety legislation and internal health and safety procedures. The risk assessment for Investigating Officers applies and will be reviewed annually.

An equality impact assessment has been carried out and shows the proposals in this policy would have no potential or actual differential impact on grounds of:

  • age
  • sex
  • disability
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • sexual orientation
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy and maternity


Consultation has taken place with key stakeholders, including the Trading Standards Service Manager and the Manager for FIU.

It is in accordance with the following services policies:

  • health and safety
  • diversity and equality
  • data protection
  • IT

Monitoring and review

The Trading Standards Service Manager for the FIU will ensure that all referrals under POCA are fully investigated and, where appropriate, confiscation or forfeiture of assets is applied for.

The Trading Standards Service Manager for the FIU will ensure that this policy is reviewed annually and will consider any changes to legislation, legal challenges to Essex Trading Standards and any discrepancies raised with regards to the policy.

Related policies and information sources

  • ACPO practice advice on the management and use of Proceeds of Crime legislation
  • ACPO practice advice on Financial Investigation
  • Proceeds of Crime Centre – National Crime Agency

Legal basis

The legal basis within which this policy is to operate can be found in:

  • Criminal Justice Act 1993
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
  • Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
  • The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  • The Human Rights Act 1998
  • The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA)
  • The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)
  • Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA)
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA)
  • The Freedom of Information Act 2000

Policy review date: April 2024