POLICE want Scots to use Facebook and Crimestoppers to report wealthy neighbours enjoying the high life who they suspect are criminals.
The scheme encourages people to report neighbours who live in big homes, drive “flash” cars and have all the trappings of wealth, without any obvious legitimate income.
The public can call Crimestoppers and police are launching Facebook adverts to allow reporting online, in a nationwide drive. It is understood police see this as a way of targeting a key group, women aged 18 to 30, including disaffected criminal “wags”.
The Made from Crime initiative, which was piloted in Lothian and Borders, is being extended across the east Scotland, and will eventually be rolled out across the country.
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, of Police Scotland, said: “We know there are people living beyond their means on the proceeds of crime, be it through the purchase of flash cars, designer clothes or expensive jewellery, and that communities are suffering from the side-effects of drug-dealing, violence and other associated crimes.
“I would assure people who are trapped by those threatening them with violence or retribution, either associates or partners, that we will help them. We will act on information and bring offenders to justice.”
Police Scotland’s east division, comprising the current forces of Lothian and Borders, Fife and Central Scotland, will run the scheme initially, in partnership with the Crown Office and Crimestoppers.
Police are not just seeking information about crimes. They want to know about any signs of wealth that may not be legitimately earned.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Crown Office can seize cash or assets after a conviction, as long the accused cannot prove they were earned through legitimate means. In many cases, lawyers can also pursue suspects through the civil courts.
When the scheme was run in Lothian and Borders in 2011, £6.4 million in cash and assets was identified for seizure, and 44 people arrested and charged.
The force received a 137 per cent increase in financial intelligence reports, while 882 people visited the Crimestoppers website via Twitter, leaving 63 reports.
Justice secretary Kenny Mac-Askill said: “We are asking communities to draw attention to those who are flashing the cash, those who have no discernible job, they haven’t won the lottery, they’re not in a high-paying job and yet they have a lifestyle that is significantly beyond anything hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens could aspire to.”