City of London Police has launched a radical cybercrime pilot project where they will work with private law firms and attempt to pursue cyber criminals through civil courts rather than criminal courts. Officers will transfer details of suspects and cases to hired law firms, which will use civil courts to seize the money.
The force says the scheme is a way of more effectively tackling fraud – which is now the biggest type of crime, estimated to cost £193bn a year. They believe that this method will allow for quicker identification, seizure and return of assets to victims.
The scheme will initially last two years, and will trial this new method of recovery. The working group will include representatives from the police as well as the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Service.
According to The Guardian, the experiment, which is backed by the government and being closely watched by other law enforcement agencies, is expected to lead to cases reaching civil courts this year or early next year.
Officers will use the private law firms to attempt to seize suspects’ assets. If unsuccessful, police could decide to leave it at that or pursue the case themselves through the criminal courts.
Commander Chris Greany, head of economic crime at City of London police, said: “It is a huge shift … Civil recovery allows us to get hold of a criminal’s money sooner, and repay back victims sooner.”
Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, from the City of London Police and operational lead for the pilot said: “This innovative new scheme will hopefully allow us to be more flexible and creative in how we identify and seize criminal assets in certain cases to get those funds back to the victims of crime and out of the hands of criminals.
“We’re looking to use the private sector’s ability and expertise to take back these assets using civil litigation whilst freeing up time for our officers to concentrate on building the criminal cases against those individuals and groups.’
As noted by the Guardian, there is a much lower burden of proof on prosecutors in civil courts, while in criminal courts it is necessary to prove guilt ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Therefore, due to the lower standard of proof in civil law for the recovery of assets than criminal law; the project is experimenting with such a shift.
What is your opinion about this innovative project? Let us know in the comment section.
Written by DFGR Research Team – www.dfgr-ltd.com