According to the Times, councils are to be given wide ranging powers of confiscation to allow them to sieze the assets of minor offenders.These offences could be anything from failure to pay council tax to fare dodgers. It is argued that it will free up police time.

But putting such power in the hands of unwarranted council officials is a step too far. We have already seen what they do with anti-terrorist powers in their crack downs on the vicious crimes of doggy doo-doos and school cachement area breaking gangsters.

The 'Al Capone Powers' were originally intended to combat serious. large scale crime involving millions of pounds.

The councils will now be able to use these 'Al Capone Powers' and act independently of the police to recover the assets, presumably without recourse to the courts , otherwise what are bailiffs for.

This work is currently done by bailiffs, but only when in receipt of a court order. However, if the matter could lead to disorder and violence the police have to be present to effect the entry and allow seizure. So one assumes that the same will apply to the new “trained internal financial investigators”. So where is the saving? Also, who are these trained investigators? I would bet that they are the current bailiffs, just given new, extended powers. Will these powers include being able to effect violent entry so the police are not involved?

So, the new financial investigators could target who they like and take assets from them without getting a court order? What would happen for example in cases where council tax or a parking fine is disputed? What right to appeal before the event does the individual have?

This all sounds to me like extending the powers of council bailiffs to take assets from someone who has no recourse to the law. I am beginning to wonder who is the Al Capone in this new regime of confiscation that is being created.

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