Absolutely not, no, no way ever

This is one of the more vile suggestions for public policy that we have seen in recent years. And the correct answer to the idea being put forward is absolutely not, no, no way ever.

Police forces raised more than £5 million last year by selling off a treasure chest of criminals' loot, including flash cars, luxury yachts, light aircraft – and even guns.

But now the windfall is at the centre of a political row as demands grow to allow forces keep more of the cash they get from such sales to fund frontline policing.

Currently, half of the proceeds are handed to the Home Office, with more money going to the courts and the prosecution service. But Thames Valley's police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: 'I think we should have it all.'

We object to the basic idea, that property can ever, let alone should be, confiscated without conviction in a court of law of an actual crime other than having some property whose financing cannot be proven.

But we also do actually have a good example in front of us of what happens when incentives are aligned, as they are in the US. There police forces do indeed keep most to all of property taken. And the effect is that the population is subject to legalised plunder. As the ACLU, the IfJ, Cato and others continually point out.

Policing for profit is not something which has a place in anything approximating to a liberal polity. Those who do the confiscating must never be those who gain from the confiscation having been done.

Absolutely not, no, no way ever.