In training I am often asked what happens to the money that is confiscated from criminals, and I have visited the subject previously in this blog. But recently a new option has come to light: give it to charity. And guidance on this very option has been issued to the courts of England and Wales by the Senior Presiding Judge, the Right Honourable Lord Justice Gross, in which he states that is permissible for applications to be made to the proceeds of crime fund in respect of charities.
The purpose of the guidance is to ensure that any payments are approved and made in a fair and transparent manner, and that there is no taint of favouritism or indeed criminality in the awards. Most forfeiture orders are paid to the court, of course, but – as the guidance has it – “there may be occasions where it will be more meaningful to the defendant or the victim if the monies forfeited are paid to a specific charity [and] this course [of action] may also support local crime initiatives”. Any such application must have the full support of all parties – defendant, victim and charity – and the charity itself must be registered with the Charity Commission. Finally the judge or magistrate ordering the payment must have no connection with the charity that is benefiting. I’m sure I should be able to think of some jokes about donations to the Home for Retired Safecrackers and Cat Burglars, but I can’t.