That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 and provide that the proceeds of crime be invested in disadvantaged communities in order to help alleviate the impact of crime and help prevent the reoccurrence of criminal behaviour.
In response to a parliamentary question I tabled, it was noted the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB, seized almost €65 million in cash and assets in 2019. This is a significant increase on previous years and welcome news. Most of the money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau has been extricated from the communities in which the criminals have been active most. Accordingly, it must be returned to these communities. Sinn Féin has always advocated that any money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau should be put back into communities to tackle disadvantage, as well as to fund prevention, treatment and rehabilitation drug services. Deputy Ó Snodaigh raised this issue over ten years ago.
I represent the Dublin Mid-West constituency and I am from north Clondalkin. Parts of my constituency have been ripped apart by drug use over the years. This Bill will require the Minister for Finance to carry out a review of financial supports required for those disadvantaged communities affected by crime. It aims to reinvest the money generated through the seizure of assets by the Criminal Assets Bureau in these communities with a view to alleviating the impact of crime and enhancing crime prevention measures. Any of this money invested in our communities needs to be on top of allocated resources and not seen as a replacement. It must also not hinder community organisations applying for any additional resources which they require through normal funding channels.
It is no accident that most of the money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau originates in areas like mine, which are highly disadvantaged. I welcome the recent announcement by the Minister that a fund will be created to provide additional funding for investment in community safety projects from the proceeds of the Criminal Assets Bureau. While community safety is important, so too is building community resilience. Drug task forces, family resource centres, youth organisations, unemployment services, sports clubs and others which work in disadvantaged areas should benefit from this fund. I have had positive feedback from the Government parties when I raised this issue in the Dáil before. I hope this Bill receives cross-party support.