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“Double Punishment” - The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA): A Qualitative Examination of the Post-Conviction Confiscation Punishment in England and Wales.

Fletcher, Craig (2019) “Double Punishment” - The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA): A Qualitative Examination of the Post-Conviction Confiscation Punishment in England and Wales. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Over the past few decades there has been an increasing use of asset recovery powers which claim to confiscate ‘ill-gotten’ gains from offenders who derive profit from their crimes. The embodiment of this came in the form of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, a piece of legislation that consolidated previous asset recovery legislation and which set out to make sure that ‘crime does not pay’ (Rees et al., 2012). Whilst the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 provides a number of asset recovery routes, the most frequently used within England and Wales is post-conviction confiscation (ibid). Despite the increasing use of confiscation powers there is an absence of research which accounts for the voices of those who are subject to this punishment. Such insights may be key to developing an understanding of the ‘true’ impact of the post-conviction confiscation punishment upon the defendant and their families and illuminate whether this system of punishment meets its wider crime control objectives. Therefore, through the analysis of narrative ‘interviews’ with twenty-one individuals who have been subject to the post-conviction confiscation punishment, this qualitative study investigates the lived reality of being subject to this contemporary form of punishment. Based upon its findings, this thesis will argue that this form of punishment represents a further level of punishment despite no further offence being committed; that it is a punishment that once inflicted becomes a ‘life sentence’ that is said to be inescapable; that it disproportionately impacts upon the [innocent] families of the confiscation defendant; that it fails to meet its stated objectives and has no social defence (Mathieson, 2009); and, in revealing both its iatrogenic and criminogenic nature, this thesis argues not for the reform of post-conviction confiscation, but for its abolition.

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