Judges have approved the seizure of assets worth more than £3m from Cumbria's criminals over the last five years.

Figures obtained exclusively by The Mail show how specialist Cumbria Police investigators have repeatedly hit fraudsters and drugs criminals where it hurts – in their pockets.

Some have been forced to sell their home, while others have had money stripped from their pension funds, with the recovered cash being ploughed back into fighting crime.

Since 2012, the force has taken convicted criminals back to court to strip them of their profits under powers created by the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act.

Judges sitting at Carlisle's Crown Court over those five years approved the seizure of £3,265,267.

This was seized from 233 convicted criminals.

The Cumbrian force has also repeatedly gone back to the courts so that it can retain other cash sums seized during investigations. The largest cash sum was seized during the 2016 to 2017 year, when the courts approved £114,337 in 10 separate cases.

In hearing where assets are being taken from convicted offenders, judges have to decide how much cash benefit the defendant has reaped from offending

The most recent high-profile cash seizure case was that involving the crooked Wigton estate agent Donald Scott, 62, who swindled his clients out of nearly £500,000. In court last month, a judge ordered him to hand over all his assets – worth just £67,000.

All defendants who are ordered to hand over criminal cash face a period in prison in default if they fail to hand over the cash – in Scott's case an extra year in jail on top of the five years he is already serving.

The Cumbria force's most successful year for seizing cash was 2013 to 2014, when the courts approved seizures of £1,068,219.


Cumbria's courts have seen a steady procession of criminals who have been forced to hand over their ill-gotten profits.

The largest cash case was that of Noel Young, who was given an extra 10 years in jail after he failed to hand over the £7m prosecutors say he made from a luxury car scam he ran in 2004.

Like all such debts, the amount owed by Young to the authorities rises with interest if the money is not handed over.

That means that by 2013 the debt owed by Young, then in his mid-thirties and from Houghton near Carlisle, has now swollen to a staggering £11.5m.

His failure to settle the debt has left Young facing an extra ten years behind bars, with a release date of 2022.

If he continues to refuse to pay up, the debt by that time will have rocketed to around £20m.


Another cash seizure was approved by magistrates in Carlisle in September of last year, when police were given permission to seize £85,000 that was found in a safe under the floorboards at the home of a Carlisle window cleaner.

A police officer told the court that detectives found the cash as they investigated suspected drugs offences which they suspected may have involved 23-year-old Scott Sutherland, though he was never prosecuted over those suspicions.

Commenting on the Proceeds of Crime Seizures, Detective Superintendent Dean Holden welcomed the figures, obtained by The Mail after a Freedom of Information Act request.

He said: “It's very encouraging to see that assets worth £3m have been clawed back following our proceeds of crime investigations.

“Confiscating proceeds of crime should act as a deterrent to those that look to profit through criminality.

"Not only does an offender risk their freedom but, through legislation, we can target assets to ensure that they do not financially gain from criminality.

“The legislation also allows us to return to the courts for increased confiscation orders when criminals build up additional assets.

“Confiscated money is reinvested into policing through an incentive scheme while assets seized are split between the police, Home Office, Crown Prosecution Service and the courts.

“In some cases a judge may decide to award a percentage of confiscated money to victims of crime as compensation. Money can also be awarded to community schemes.

“We will continue to use this legislation in order to recover the benefit from criminal activity and target criminals where it matters most to them, in their pocket.

“Whilst we undertake this activity through criminal investigations, we also welcome any information from the public about anyone they believe is benefiting from crime who may have gained assets as a result.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Recent notable Proceeds of Crime cases in south Cumbria include:

January 2017:

Michael Lander, a benefits cheat who kept a secret stash of money hidden from his wife, was ordered to pay back £21,756.82.

A proceeds of crime hearing held at Preston Crown Court heard the 54-year-old, of Cleator Street, Dalton, fraudulently claimed £25,084.34 in income support and council tax benefit after failing to declare savings he was keeping hidden from his wife.

After pleading guilty to fraud by false representation, he was told he had three months to pay in full or he would face a prison sentence. The court heard that, once he had repaid the money, Lander - who at the start of the claim had £43,000 in secret savings - would have little left in his bank account.

January 2017:

Ulverston woman Claire Potts was ordered to pay just under £20,000 or face nine months in prison. The 54-year-old had been convicted for drugs offences and was found to have benefited from her criminality to the tune of £19,999.91.

The former landlady of The Grapes, a pub in Market Street, Ulverston, was given three months to repay the money to avoid jail.

Potts had been handed a suspended jail sentence along with of 220 hours of unpaid work and a curfew in March 2016 for possessing drugs with intent to supply. It was after this sentencing that Cumbria Constabulary launched a Proceeds of Crime Act investigation.