A report by the House of Lords Home Affairs EU Sub-Committee, published at the end of April, acknowledges there are difficulties with the draft Directive, particularly regarding the mutual recognition and enforcement of orders by other Member States. However, it recommends the UK opt-in so that it can take part in negotiations and seek improvements. It must do this before the deadline of 15 June.

The report states: “Only a very small proportion of the proceeds of serious organised crime is currently recovered, and confiscation would be a more effective weapon if there was better cooperation at international level.

“If the Government failed to opt in to a measure setting out minimum provisions to be adopted by Member States, this would be against the national interest of the UK, which is that all Member States should introduce tougher measures on the confiscation of criminal assets. It would in our view send entirely the wrong message to our partners about the Government’s attitude to international cooperation.”

The draft Directive sets out minimum measures Member States should adopt for the freezing and confiscation of the proceeds of crime. UK laws already go further, in many respects, than these measures.