New Bill Targets Organised Crime

New powers restricting the activities of those suspected of money laundering, fraud, drugs and human trafficking are to be included in a Serious Crime Bill.

But the government faces criticism that the civil orders may prove unworkable given the problems it has had imposing control orders on terrorist suspects.

The bill is also expected to strengthen powers to seize assets such as cash, properties and cars from criminals.

Breaching the new order could lead to a five-year prison term.

BBC Home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw explained: “The proposal for serious crime prevention orders is another example of the government’s determination to tackle crime by using the civil courts, which rely on a lower standard of proof.

“Under the plans, the High Court would be able to impose strict conditions on a suspects’ activities and businesses, restricting where they go, who they meet, their access to bank accounts and the internet.

“The measures have been likened to the terrorist control orders, which have been dogged by problems since their introduction two years.”

He added that the three terrorist suspects already on the run – the third having absconded this month – “raised doubts about the wisdom of introducing a similar scheme for gangsters and fraudsters”.

The serious crime prevention orders would be applied for by the Crown Prosecution Service, Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office or the Serious Fraud Office.

An order could be imposed by the courts if they believed on the balance of probability that the suspect had acted in a way which helped or was likely to help a serious crime.

Orders would also be used if courts felt it was necessary and proportionate to prevent such criminal harm in the future.

It would be a High Court civil order that could be challenged in the Court of Appeal.

The Home Office suggested more than 1,000 people could be targeted by the proposed order.