School of Law

The Confiscation of Criminal Assets: Policy, Practice and Research

08 April 2011
09:30 - 17:15 (followed by wine reception)
University of Leeds

Full symposium Details


Symposium Brochure (PDF, 102KB)

Symposium on Confiscation of Criminal Assets

"We want to ensure that crime doesn't pay. Seizing criminal assets deprives criminals and criminal organisations of their financial lifeblood. The challenge for law enforcement will become even greater as new technologies hide the money trail more effectively. We must ensure that law enforcement is ready to meet the challenges." Tony Blair, September 1999.

The foregoing analysis is founded on the belief that the confiscation of criminal assets brings many advantages in the fight against crime.

  • As profit motivates crime, eliminating the profit incentive will act as a deterrent;
  • It will prevent, or at least disrupt, criminals from conducting anti-social activities;
  • Stripping criminals of their ill-gotten gains eradicates negative role models from the community;
  • Confiscation prevents criminals from infiltrating and corrupting the legitimate economy;
  • It is an affront to the law-abiding majority that others should benefit from crimes.

In pursuance of this policy, follow-the-money approaches are increasingly being adopted in many jurisdictions to supplement the perceived inadequacies of conventional criminal procedure and punishment. The tactic is applied especially in the face of increasing threats from organised crime, corruption and terrorist activities, encompassing anti-money laundering regulations, post-conviction forfeiture and non-conviction based civil law asset forfeiture. Legislation such as the UK's Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has followed in the wake of the policy.

While there is a rich body of work on money-laundering, there has been much less attention on the operation and impact of confiscating criminal assets. This symposium will therefore seek to explore the following aspects:

  • What is the impact that follow-the-money approaches have on crime levels? Given the difficulties of measuring criminal turnover, is it possible to measure, in real terms, the success (or otherwise) of this approach?
  • Even if effective, does the device of the confiscation of assets unduly impinge on due process rights and act as a double punishment? What is the impact on privacy rights?
  • What is the moral hazard of this approach to crime control? What is the impact on the legitimate economy? What is the efficiency cost to banks, solicitors, accountants etc? What is the cost to taxpayers of administering the new regime?

On all these questions, there is a need to examine what research has been undertaken or can be conceived and to feed back the ideas in a dialogue with policy and practice. To achieve that dialogue, this symposium will bring together experts in the field to discuss these, and other, issues. It aims to connect researchers with policy-makers and practitioners, to exchange ideas and ideas, and to feed back into the academic arena and policy processes.

The co-organisers are Dr Colin King and Professor Clive Walker. Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Benton, Serious Crime Directorate, Metropolitan Police;            
  • Dr Karen Bullock, University of Surrey;
  • Detective Superintendent Ian Davidson, National Co-ordinator, Association of Chief Police Officers, Financial Investigation and Proceeds of Crime Portfolio;
  • Professor Laura Donohue, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington D.C.;
  • Dr Christina Eckes, University of Amsterdam;
  • Professor Jackie Harvey, Northumbria University;
  • Stuart Lister, University of Leeds;
  • Monty Raphael, Special Counsel, Peters and Peters Solicitors;
  • Dr Peter Sproat, University of the West of Scotland;
  • Detective Sergeant Andrew Staniforth, North East Counter Terrorism Unit;
  • Kennedy Talbot, Barrister, 33 Chancery Lane.

A limited number of places are available free-of-charge. CPD Points are available.

For further information or inquiries, contact:

Dr Colin King
Centre for Criminal Justice Studies
School of Law
The Liberty Building
University of Leeds

(+44) (0)113 343 5077


© Copyright Leeds 2018