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Community projects to share £130k from seized criminal profits

NICE fund - Hardyal Dhindsa, Mick Creedon, Alan Charles.

L-R: Deputy PCC Hardyal Dhindsa, Chief Constable Mick Creedon, PCC Alan Charles

Five community projects focused on improving the local environment have won grants under a funding scheme that injects illegally-generated income back into crime prevention.

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles has allocated £131,684 between five organisations as part of his NICE (Neighbourhoods Investing Criminal Earnings) Fund, which was launched last year to provide financial support to community capital projects which will leave a lasting legacy for their communities.

The cash comes on top of the £250,000 he will invest in grassroots crime prevention as part of his Crime Prevention Fund in 2015-16 and will enhance work already underway in the county to help divert young people away from crime.

This year, 22 organisations submitted bids for NICE funding and from a shortlist of seven proposals which met the specific criteria, five were successful.

The funding, which has been distributed in grants of up to £40,000, is a proportion of the income confiscated from criminals in Derbyshire under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This legislation provides police officers with the powers to seize cash and recover the valuable assets that have been bought by criminals through their illegal profits including property, cars and jewellery.

The grant allocation was formally agreed at a meeting of the Strategic Governance Board today.

Commenting on the funding awards, Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles said: “I’m delighted that we are in a position to reinvest these illegal gains into worthwhile community projects, many of which enhance the local environment and play a valuable role in discouraging offending.

“There are many community projects in the county worthy of extra financial support and it is always difficult to choose between them. The successful projects are all committed to putting something back into their community and creating a safer and harmonious environment for local residents – goals that inspire other people to care more about where they live.

“It is only right that the profits generated by criminal behaviour are reinvested into projects that benefit the general public who are all affected by crime.”

Among the successful projects to be awarded funding is the Chesterfield Canal Trust, which received £20,850 towards its work. The Trust campaigns for the full restoration of the 46-mile long canal and the development of the Rother Valley link as well as promoting the waterways as a canal for all. It also runs boat trips to enable members of the public and community groups to enjoy the natural surroundings offered by the waterways.

Robin Stonebridge, from The Chesterfield Canal Society, said: “The Chesterfield Canal Trust is delighted to have been selected to receive support from the PCC's NICE fund. With the support from the Commissioner, we will be able to buy a new hull for the Trust's Chesterfield-based trip boat, which we will then fit out and have in service during 2016, enabling thousands of people and organisations to get out and enjoy the beauty of the canal. Support for the work we do is very important to us, and without such massive public and organisational support, the Chesterfield Canal would still be a stinking ditch - uncared for, and unloved.”

Another organisation to be awarded funding is the Mackworth Estate Community Association which received £19,750 towards a refurbishment project involving the Community Hall.   

Paul Pegg, from the Mackworth Estate, said: “The fund will help MECA complete the refurbishment of the Community Hall by purchasing all of the lighting and sound equipment for the stage. This will give the various theatre groups and the young people of Mackworth the opportunity to get engaged in the theatre.”

Gamesley FC was awarded £16,824 to improve club facilities.

Mick Dewhurst, from the club, said: “We are very grateful to receive funding for our community football team. This will enable us to upgrade some facilities which have been vandalised, and put us in line with more affluent communities.”

Other organisations to benefit were Friends of New Mills Parks which received £40,000 towards the redevelopment of Bowden Crescent Park and Wilmorton Residents Association which received £19,500 to provide equipment to secure its newly renovated site.

A spokeswoman for the Friends of New Mills Parks said: “Friends of New Mills Parks are delighted to have been granted an award from the Commissioner’s NICE Fund to redevelop Bowden Crescent Park in New Mills. We are so excited to have the opportunity to work with the Ollersett community and develop a space for people of all ages to use.”

POCA investigations can be complex and lengthy, involving a host of experts from specialist police officers and criminal lawyers to tax investigators. Any income retrieved from criminals is split between the Home Office and the different agencies involved in recovering the money.

(Please click here to be directed to the NICE Fund page where you can view awarded grant agreements.)

ENDS

Media Enquiries:  Sallie Blair 01283 821012

Posted on Monday 14th September 2015
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