As if I don’t get enough law and order through my work, I am also a magistrate. (For non-UK readers, the magistracy is a peculiarly English system by which untrained hobby-judges get to put people in prison in their spare time.) The majority of cases I hear are to do with traffic offences and assault, but occasionally my little heart skips a beat when I look at the court list and see the magic words “Proceeds of Crime Act” – a money laundering prosecution!
You can probably guess that I am fairly sceptical in these cases. He hid the money in saucepans on the top of his kitchen cupboard? She buried bags of cash in her garden? He paid someone he met in the pub £2,000 in cash for a motorbike even though he is on benefits, and didn’t think to ask for a receipt? I’ve heard them all. Sadly, Cambridgeshire criminals are neither terribly successful nor hugely imaginative, and so I don’t get any of the really juicy laundering stories. I need to move to London and sit on the bench in the City of Westminster.