Making Crime Pay… for Communities

A fool may earn money, but it takes a wise man to keep it.
– Scottish proverb

From Stuart McMillan’s site:

McMillan encourages local groups to apply for new funding

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan has today encouraged local groups in Inverclyde to apply for new funding through the CashBack for Communities programme – after a £17m funding boost for the scheme was announced by the Scottish Government.

CashBack for Communities is a Scottish Government programme which takes funds recovered from the proceeds of crime and invests them into free activities and programmes for young people across Scotland, a current example being the Bank of Scotland Midnight Football League held weekly across Inverclyde.

Since 2008/09 CashBack has committed over £75 million to projects and organisations who work with young people, delivering more than 1.8 million activities and opportunities throughout the country.

Commenting, Stuart McMillan MSP said:

“This new funding for CashBack for Communities is very welcome – and offers a real opportunity which community groups across Inverclyde should not pass up.

“CashBack for Communities offers every young person, regardless of their background, the opportunity to get involved in positive activities in their communities – and this new round of funding will focus on improving the attainment, ambition and aspirations of the most disadvantaged young people in Greenock and Inverclyde as well as across the country.

“Inverclyde have already had the benefit of £830,587 from Cashback for Communities with over 30,000 young people benefiting from this funding and is privileged to have so many wonderful community groups working so hard to improve our communities.  This new funding is a fantastic opportunity for many of them to build on the positive work they already do – and I’d urge community groups across Inverclyde to apply.”

Further details are available here:

http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/-17-million-for-CashBack-2406.aspx

ocean-youth-trust-scotland-vessel-mast-21-900x600

Ocean Youth Trust Scotland (OYCT), based in Greenock, is just one of the many groups which benefit from Cashback for Communities.

In 2002, the UK government enacted the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). It was designed to allow the UK government to seize the proceeds and assets procured through illegal activity, and reinvest those resources for the public good. Following the 2007 election, the new Scottish government put the CashBack for Communities (CFC) programme into place in 2008 to take advantage of these funds:

The CashBack for Communities programme takes the ill-gotten gains of crime, recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and invests them into community programmes, facilities and activities largely, but not exclusively, for young people at risk of turning to crime and anti-social behaviour as a way of life.

Due to the unique way in which CashBack is funded, it is inherently difficult to forecast when new monies will become available. There is no Government budget for CashBack and the Programme relies on the excellent work of the Scottish Courts Service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s Service and all the other agencies involved in enforcing the law, to fully recover the ill-gotten gains of criminals in order that CashBack can invest them back into communities.

Projects range from diversionary work to more long-term potentially life-changing intervention projects, which aim to turn an individual’s life around and provide them the opportunity of a positive destination such as employment, education, or volunteering. The Programme includes a number of partnerships with Scottish sporting, arts, business, community and youth associations. CashBack also provides much needed funding to sports and community facilities for essential refurbishment and renovation.

The key principles that underpin all CashBack activities include:

  • Positive – broadly defined as wholesome, healthy, fun, active, engaging
  • Open to all – accessible, well advertised, free of charge, of interest to all ages and to both boys and girls, ethnic minorities, young people with disabilities etc
  • Developmental – changing behaviours and attitudes, developing personal and physical skills
  • Sustainable – providing medium and long term as well as short term benefits; linked to mainstream funding

Since the inception of the Cashback for Communities programme in 2007, over £74 million recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act has been invested or committed to a wide range of sporting, cultural, educational and mentoring activities for children and young people throughout Scotland. The programme has funded 1.2 million activities and opportunities for young people.

This investment includes £24 million on sporting activities and facilities projects; £10 million on grant schemes that support youth work projects across all 32 local authority areas; over £3.5 million on cultural activities involving arts, music and dance.

As part of the UK, Scotland benefits from these funds: unfortunately, the people of Scotland are entitled to far more than their current allocation. Rather than utilise a geographical or even population percentage, the UK government has applied a seemingly arbitrary cap of £30 million per year to Scotland:

Proceeds of crime are currently capped at £30 million, with all other money being remitted to the Treasury. Although we have not breached the cap, the endeavours of the Lord Advocate and his colleagues are taking us towards a situation in which we may do so—that may occur at some time in the future. It seems appropriate that proceeds of crime that are recovered by the authorities in this country should be returned to our communities. I hope that members across the chamber agree that such matters should be dealt with here, that there should not be any cap at all, and that money should certainly not be going to the Treasury when it could be reinvested to improve and secure our communities.

StuOYTS

Stuart McMillan & Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson with OYCT

Now, £30 million is undoubtedly a significant sum, and there would have to be a truly spectacular amount of coin to be made in one year before the threshold is breached. Yet even considering Scotland’s 41-year-low in crime, with multiple factors like inflation in play, it is not outside the realms of possibility. All it would take would be a particularly successful crime lord or two (and a particularly successful police service in apprehending them!) and we would have to relinquish any extra proceeds to Greg Hands.

There is absolutely no reason for this cap, other than successive UK governments presumably think that this is the maximum amount of money the Scottish people are entitled to recover from criminal actions that affect their own communities. In the eight years since POCA’s introduction, the Scottish Executives of McLeish and McConnell made no effort that I can find to either increase the cap, or abolish it. Within 3 years of election, the Scottish government not only introduced CFC – thus enabling communities to decide for themselves what to do with the funds – but increased the cap from £17 million to £30 million (76%) in 2010.

Would the Scottish Executive have even considered such things, had they occurred to them? It’s doubtful: after all, the three Scottish Executives preceding the Scottish Governments saw fit to return £1.5 billion in unspent public funds to the Treasury – which is yet another reason why we must deliver an SNP government this May.

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