Consultation on codes of practice issued under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Closed 1 Feb 2021

Opened 1 Dec 2020


The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) contains a comprehensive legal framework for the investigation, and the recovery, of the proceeds of crime.  The Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA 2017) - see link below - added to the asset recovery and investigation powers in POCA.  The operation of certain powers within POCA, including some of those inserted by the CFA 2017,  are subject to 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 CFA 2017 provisions that amended POCA were commenced in England and Wales and Scotland at various stages in 2017 and 2018, but were not commenced in Northern Ireland.  The Home Secretary and the Department of Justice have committed to commencing the relevant outstanding provisions of the CFA 2017 in Northern Ireland as soon as possible in 2021.  It is important to note that the CFA 2017 amendments will not be commenced in Northern Ireland until the relevant secondary legislation is passed in Parliament and by the Northern Ireland Assembly and that this cannot proceed until the relevant codes of practice are ready to be brought into operation.

POCA provides that when a code of practice is issued or revised, the relevant authorities must prepare and publish a draft, consider any representations made and modify the codes, as appropriate.  The codes must then be laid before Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly (as appropriate) for approval.  This consultation is on the codes of practice issued by the Department of Justice which provide guidance to constables and accredited financial investigators on the exercise of certain POCA powers in Northern Ireland.




Why your views matter

The consultation is to seek views on the guidance contained in the draft codes of practice about the exercise of POCA powers, not on the powers themselves as enacted under POCA and amended or added to by other Acts (see notes below) and by the commencement of the CFA 2017 in Northern Ireland. We would ask those commenting to be aware of this distinction when sending in responses. The codes are intended to be self-explanatory and so we would welcome views on any passages that are confusing, ambiguous or lacking in clarity, or if you believe there are gaps.

The consultation is open to everyone, but is particularly relevant to anyone who is involved in or interested in the operation of the relevant powers contained in POCA. Responses to the consultation should be returned by 1 February 2021.

NB - The Acts that have amended and extended the powers in POCA include, but are not limited to, the Policing and Crime Act 2009, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the UK Borders Act 2007, the Crime and Courts Act 2013, the Serious Crime Act 2015 and, more recently, the Criminal Finances Act 2017.  





What happens next

The Consultation period will end on 1 February 2021. The Department will consider the responses to this consultation and modify the draft codes if appropriate. The codes will be cleared with the Justice Minister and the Justice Committee before they are laid at the Northern Ireland Assembly for approval under the draft affirmative procedure, following which they will come into operation. This will coincide with the laying of the Home Office and Attorney General for England and Wales and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland codes at Westminster. The coming into operation date will coincide with the commencement date of the relevant provisions in Northern Ireland.


  • All stakeholders
  • Citizens
  • Business
  • Voluntary and Community Sector
  • DOJ Staff


  • Criminal justice
  • Crime
  • Courts
  • Policing
  • Civil Justice