Government targets organised crime with new bill

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Indy Politics

Details of new powers designed to crack down on gangsters will be published today.

The Home Office's Serious Crime Bill is expected to feature a so-called "serious crime prevention order" which will be used to disrupt suspected major criminals in the run-up to their trials.

It could also be used against minor henchmen within organised criminal gangs to freeze their assets and introduce other restrictions.

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

Judges are expected to be able to ban suspected serious criminals from going abroad or even using mobiles if they think they are using them for nefarious purposes.

They could also bar them from meeting up with specific individuals thought to be accomplices.

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

Courts can impose such an order if it is believed, on the balance of probability, that the suspect had acted in a way which helped or was likely to help a serious crime.

They can also be imposed if a court could be convinced it was necessary and proportionate to prevent criminal harm in the future.

Legally the order would be a High Court civil order and any challenge would be made in the Court of Appeal.

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