'We're working hard to ensure crime doesn’t pay,' says South Yorkshire crime tsar

People write to me all the time about all sorts of things to do with policing and crime.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner

But there is one thing that really gets people angry and frustrated.

It’s when they see criminals apparently getting away with their crimes, especially the drug

dealers.

They wear smart suites, drive around in big cars and flash expensive watches.

Even if they get caught and spend some time in prison they seem to come out and carry

on where they left off.

Quite rightly, this gets communities worked up.

It causes parents to despair as well.

If they are trying to bring up their young people well, telling them that a good education is

the key to a good job, the sight of drug-dealers and their easy money does not help.

In future things may be rather different.

The police are beginning to make serious progress in hitting these criminals where it hurts

most – in their pockets.

The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) allows the police to apply to the courts to seize the

assets of offenders.

This is especially true where they can’t show how they have legally come by those assets.

So they can seize cash.

Or it could be cars or even houses.

South Yorkshire police now have specialist officers in each district – Sheffield, Rotherham,

Barnsley and Doncaster - looking at how they can maximise these opportunities.

And they will not only be looking at what is going through the courts now, but also whether

everything that could have been dome in the past was done.

And some of what has been seized is big money.

Earlier this year, Sheffield officers recovered drugs with a street value of over £1m.

An awful lot of burglaries would have been needed by some users to buy those drugs.

I have also decided to use money recovered from offenders to fund community activities

across South Yorkshire, including Sheffield, through my grants scheme.

Community groups can apply for grants of up to £10,000 for projects that will help to keep

places safer or divert young people into worthwhile activities away from crime or anti-social

behaviour.