I intend to lay legislation in 2021 which will commence the Criminal Finances Act 2017 in Northern Ireland. As part of this, I will issue updated codes of practice under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 contains a comprehensive package of measures designed to make the recovery of unlawfully held assets more effective. The operation of certain powers within POCA are subject to guidance in various codes of practice issued by the Home Secretary, the Attorney General and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice and Scottish Ministers.
The existing codes of practice need to be updated to reflect my intention to commence the Criminal Finances Act in Northern Ireland, following consent from the Justice Minster, Naomi Long. The changes to the codes will not come in to force until the Criminal Finances Act has come in to force in Northern Ireland.
The Proceeds of Crime Act provides that before a revised code of practice is issued, I must consider any representations made and modify the codes as appropriate, and subsequently lay the codes before Parliament for approval. As such, I will launch a consultation today, 1 December, for eight weeks.
I intend to consult on changes to the following codes of practice:
The Attorney General will also consult on changes to the Investigation Code of Practice issued under s.377A of the Proceeds of Crime Act, which provides guidance for prosecutors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
I will arrange for a copy of the consultation documents to be placed in the libraries of both Houses.