Internet users can report their concerns using the world's most popular social network (anonymously if they wish) or via Bluetooth to link directly to the Crimestoppers UK website. The project, the first of its kind in Scotland, has the backing of the Scottish Government and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The scheme is designed to make full use of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), which allows police officers to seize assets that have been purchased through criminal activity. Lothian and Borders said that more than £41 million ($67 million) has already been confiscated from criminals through the act, with the money being reinvested in community projects across the country.
The police force hopes that the use of social media and other online tools will help them to identify even more criminals. The main goal is to apprehend people who fund their lifestyles by the proceeds of crime.
"We know there are people living beyond their means on the proceeds of crime, be it through the purchase of flash cars, designer clothes or expensive jewelry, and that communities are suffering from the side effects of drug dealing, violence and other associated crimes," Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone of Lothian and Borders Police said in a statement. "I personally appeal to local communities who have any information to come forward immediately, either to Crimestoppers or to Lothian and Borders Police. Similarly, I would assure people who are trapped by those threatening them with violence or retribution, either associates or partners, that we will help them and tackle the violence and criminality they face. We will act on intelligence and bring offenders to justice."
"Lothian and Borders Police, like Scotland's other police forces, is taking the problem of dirty money obtained through criminal activity very seriously," Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said in a statement. "Those who make a comfortable or cushy living from activities such as drug dealing are not only deceitful to hard working and honest members of the public, but are involved in despicable acts that cause great harm to our communities. They should simply not be able to evade the law. More than £41 million has already been seized from crooks such as these through the Proceeds of Crime Act and through the Scottish Government's Cashback initiative. We are seeing it reinvested in fantastic new community projects in Edinburgh, the Lothians and across Scotland."
"We have vast powers available to us through the proceeds of crime legislation and I am delighted that this new initiative will allow people to use social media to report anonymously those who they see flaunting ill-gotten gains before them," Solicitor general, Lesley Thomson QC, told The Guardian. "The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will continue to take a robust approach to anyone who chooses to fund their lifestyle through crime - and we will use every power available to us as prosecutors to seize their assets and disrupt their activities."