CRIMINALS in South Yorkshire have been forced to hand over £3 million of their illicit gains - and the money has been put to good use.
From last March to April this year, crooks including fraudsters and drug dealers were made to pay back £2 million under the Proceeds of Crime Act, through court orders secured by police.
South Yorkshire Police is awaiting a civil court judgement on a further £680,000.
The money is used to help the force fight crime, and is also donated to local groups such as the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, which recently received £30,000 to provide activities for young people.
Sheffield’s G-Corp basketball team was given £3,000 from the foundation for fees, uniforms and equipment, as well as schemes to help young people maintain a healthy lifestyle and to keep away from being involved in anti-social behaviour.
Cash handed over by criminals also supported a £580 donation to the Handsworth Community Forum to run a drugs education course for parents.
Sessions were spread over eight weeks, and included input from police officers and former offenders.
In Barnsley, a group of Christian street pastors received £700 which they used to buy radios to keep in touch with police and members of the Pubwatch scheme.
The pastors team up with trained volunteers and patrol the streets of Barnsley town centre on Friday and Saturday nights offering assistance to people in need, looking after the vulnerable and providing basic first aid.
And in Rotherham, the Kiveton Park and Wales Community Development Trust was granted £1,500, which it has used to buy Nintendo Wii consoles and sports equipment.
Young people were able to try sports and dance games using the consoles and then used local parks to recreate the same sports and fitness programmes outdoors.
Graham Wragg, manager of South Yorkshire Police’s economic crime unit, said the foundation is a ‘regular beneficiary’ of money.
“The force is committed to ensuring money gained from criminal activity is seized and put back into the community,” he said.
“Criminals must not be allowed to benefit from their criminal activity and we will use the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure they do not.”