Police in Dorset recovered a record amount of criminal cash and assets last year, new figures reveal.

Dorset Police collected proceeds of crime worth £681,000 in 2018-19, according to the latest Home Office data, which includes dirty money, goods and property.

Under the central government asset recovery incentivisation scheme (ARIS) police forces are paid an incentive but cannot keep all of the money.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "Dorset Police is awarded incentivisation through the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme. These funds are put toward local policing costs with a view to further drive up performance on asset recovery."

Of last year's seizures in Dorset, £597,000 – 88 per cent – came from confiscation orders, which take place following a criminal conviction but are started before sentencing.

The value of the confiscated amount must be split between the investigating agency, the prosecuting agency and the enforcing agency. The largest share is retained by central government.

The largest amount of cash recovered by Dorset Police in a single incident was £114,070 in November 2016. The second highest was £68,900 in September 2018.

The Dorset Police spokesman added: "Dorset Police Economic Crime Unit seeks to maximise the use of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and other legislation to recover criminal assets in accordance with force priorities, and specifically in order to seek to compensate victims of crime and deprive criminals of their proceeds of crime, including assets denied and recovered from criminals."

Just under £217m was collected by police forces, councils and government agencies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act – up 21 per cent over the five-year period.

Brandon Lewis, the government's security minister, said: "This money is being ploughed back into law enforcement work and compensating victims. Last year, victims were paid £36m – which was a 27 per cent increase on 2013-14.

"The new National Economic Crime Centre is harnessing intelligence and capabilities across the public and private sectors to bring people to justice."

Tougher anti-corruption measures came into force last year to stem the tide of laundered cash flooding the UK.

They include Unexplained Wealth Orders, demanding a person or company explain where their money came from, and powers to freeze funds.

To date, 15 UWOs have been granted for property with a total value estimated at just over £143m.

In 2018-19, £110m was frozen in over 670 bank and building society accounts.

A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman said: "Police forces prioritise crimes of the highest threat, risk and harm, and we have been using our powers to increase our seizure of the assets of serious criminals."