Community facilities across Derbyshire have shared almost £115k towards vital repair and restoration work under a scheme which pumps the ill-gotten gains of criminals back into crime prevention.
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa allocated individual grants of up to £25,000 to sports clubs and community assets to improve local life and increase participation in community-run projects as part of his NICE (Neighbourhoods Investing Criminal Earnings) Fund.
The fund was launched to provide one-off financial support to community capital projects which leave a lasting legacy on their communities and help to deter crime.
The funding represents a proportion of the total income confiscated from criminals in Derbyshire over the past 12 months under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This legislation allows police officers to seize cash and recover assets and property which have been bought by criminals with their illegal profits and includes property, cars and jewellery.
Mr Dhindsa said: “Criminal activity ruins lives and communities and it is entirely justified that the money seized from offending is reinvested back into our neighbourhoods to discourage young people from making the same mistakes.
“These grants help to protect much-loved community facilities for future generations, encourage communities to come together and celebrate diversity and increase the opportunities available for young and vulnerable people, helping to channel their energy in positive ways.
“The competition for funding remains tough and it is difficult to choose between all the projects which apply for funding. For those who were unsuccessful, there are other grant schemes available throughout the year and I would advise visiting my website for further information.”
The NICE Fund is additional to the £250,000 the PCC invests annually into grassroots crime prevention as part of his Community Safety Fund.
Successful projects include St Anne’s Community Centre in Buxton, which hosts local groups including Guides and Brownies, received £24,825.09 for modernisation work including a new and more efficient heating system, new doors to improve security, a new kitchen and a fully decorated main hall.
Margaret Swift, St Anne’s Parish Council Chair, added: “The award of a grant from Nice has provided the many different community groups who use St Anne’s Community Centre in Buxton an improved environment in which to meet and base their activities. Rooms are brighter and more comfortable; the centre is much more welcoming, and the facilities have improved; this includes the installation of a commercial dishwasher (which is proving to be a very popular addition)!
“The award has enabled the Pastoral Parish Council to improve the efficiency of the building by installing new insulation, and with the ‘zoning’ of separate areas and installation of fans, the temperature can be controlled and maintained for the comfort of all our users.
“There has been an increase in bookings from different sectors of the community; this benefits the Community Centre in terms of future sustainability. Users have expressed their thanks for the improvements, and it is becoming more evident that there is a ‘pride’ in taking care of the better environment.”
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.
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Posted on Tuesday 17th September 2019