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Legal first as PSNI seizes £3,500 from dissident grouping

By Donna Deeney

Published 24/02/2016

District commander Superintendent Mark McEwan said he believed the money belonged to dissidents and was earmarked for the purchase of arms
District commander Superintendent Mark McEwan said he believed the money belonged to dissidents and was earmarked for the purchase of arms

The PSNI has for the first time used new powers to seize money that was believed to have been in the hands of violent dissident republicans.

Police acting under the Crime and Security Act confiscated £3,500 after an investigation into suspicious activity in Londonderry in September.

District commander Superintendent Mark McEwan said he believed the money belonged to dissidents and was earmarked for the purchase of arms.

He added: "When it was seized, we believed the money was in the hands of a proscribed organisation known as the New IRA.

"We know that these people are involved in criminality that creates harm and suffering in our community.

"This legislation gives us a tool to help us tackle illegal activity. It means that money that may have been used to buy guns and explosives to attack members of the community, including police officers, has been taken out of circulation."

Antrim Crown Court was told that a claim by an individual to contest the forfeiture had been dropped.

Money seized under the legislation is retained by the Treasury, with a portion of it also being allocated to the PSNI.

Supt McEwan said: "Police can use this money for specific operations to combat crime and criminality and to keep people safe.

"It cannot, for example, be used to buy police equipment."

Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton said using the money to benefit the community in this way was a victory for justice.

He said: "I am delighted that money intended to buy weapons to be used most likely to kill police officers will be used now to protect the whole community and combat crime.

"These new powers have been tested and have shown they can work, which will send out a strong message to paramilitaries that the PSNI are going after them.

"I hope this is the first of many similar successes for the police."

The National Crime Agency (NCA) already seizes the assets of criminals and money deemed to have been earned from criminal activities.

The NCA also looks at the bigger strategic picture across the UK, analysing how criminals are operating and how they can be disrupted.

The organisation works closely with the PSNI.

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