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POCA used to recoup thousands from illegal scrapyard

Words: Laura Edgar
Illegal scrap yard / South Staffordshire Council

The owner of an unauthorised scrapyard in South Staffordshire has been directed to pay a £150,000 confiscation order after failing to comply with an enforcement notice.

The scrapyard was located in Four Cross in Hatherton.

Andrew Taff, the owner of A5 Tyres, was ordered to pay the £150,000 after a successful Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) application, brought by the council and supported by financial investigators at Birmingham City Council, in October. This must be paid within 18 months, otherwise Taff faces imprisonment.

At a hearing in Birmingham Crown Court at the end of October, Taff was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £28,280.

An enforcement notice was initially issued in November 2011. It required Taff to clear the scrapyard site and stop using it as one, as well as for storing vehicles, parts and skips. He unsuccessfully appealed and was given a further 12 months to comply with the notice.

Despite enforcement officers visiting the site in 2013 and 2014, operations did not stop. Taff refused them entry on occasion, meaning that they had to seek a warrant of entry from the courts.

On 26 July 2017 at Stafford Crown Court, Taff changed his plea at the last minute, pleading guilty to three allegations of failing to comply with the enforcement notice. Around this time, the council said he complied with the enforcement notice.

Roger Lees, cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “This case highlights the patient and diligent work of our legal team and enforcement officers. As a council, we will not hesitate to prosecute people who carry out unauthorised activities, no matter how long it takes. POCA is designed to take the profit out of crime and I'm delighted that the seriousness of the offence has been recognised by the courts and that this successful prosecution will result in confiscated criminal assets benefiting the community instead and go towards buying more CCTV cameras to catch fly-tippers.”

South Staffordshire Council will receive around £28,000 of the confiscation order. The remaining money will be split between the Home Office, the court, and financial investigators at Birmingham City Council.

Image credit | South Staffordshire Council