October 12, 2007

The Assets Recovery Agency

The assets recovery agency is to be scrapped, or rather it is to absorbed into the Justice Ministers private police force the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. The reason given was its waste and incompetence. However the waste and incompetence, while impressively large even by government standards, is not the reason that this agency and the legislation behind it must go. Waste and incompetence is simply to be expected from any government agency. The basis of this legislation is an attack on one of the most basic liberties that we all have, the liberty of not having your property confiscated unless convicted of a crime at a fair trial.

The purpose of the Assets Recovery Agency and The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 that spawned it is to impose fines on people who may never have been proven to have done anything wrong, but just seem to have more assets than the State decides that they could have gained without doing something illegal. What they have or have not done is not important, just that some spiteful bureaucrat somewhere thinks they look a bit dodgy.

Once the ASA has a victim in its sights their assets are frozen while it tries to get a court to agree with them. Not prove beyond reasonable doubt, just decide that they might be a bit dodgy on the balance of probabilities. The ASA then takes the money for itself and its master, the government. This is literally the way that the witch mania of the middle ages was fueled, letting the prosecutors take a cut of their victims wealth as an incentive to find more victims. Luckily, unlike in the middle ages, they are not the judge as well as the prosecutor and the judicery seems to be doing a good job in protecting people from this form of legalised mugging, which is why they have 'recovered' so little. Even with the lowered level of proof required the ASA still finds that it is difficult even to reach that.


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