Courts set to get tough on crooks who refuse to pay off their fines

PEOPLE who try to avoid paying court fines across Notts will be targeted in a new campaign.

Enforcement officers and police will visit offenders’ homes to collect unpaid fines in a month-long campaign by Her Majesty’s Courts Service.

Bailiffs will also be issued with warrants to confiscate property and, where necessary, those who refuse to co-operate will be arrested.

Court time will be set aside to deal specifically with fine dodgers.

In the 12 months up to September last year, 4,111 Attachment of Earnings Orders - which means money is taken from a defendant’s wages to pay a debt - and 21,262 Deduction from Benefits Orders were issued across Derbyshire and Notts.

The Operation Crackdown blitz which took place in February 2010 saw 9,425 warrants executed and £1.02m collected across England and Wales. The overall result was that 14.7% more cash was collected than in February 2009.

“Our message to fine dodgers is clear: pay up now or face the consequences,” said Mark Swales, HMCS regional director for the Midlands.

“The courts will do everything within their powers to trace those who do not pay.”

“Money can be taken from an offender’s earnings or from benefits if they are unemployed. Warrants can be issued instructing court employed agents to seize and sell goods belonging to the offender. Ultimately an offender can be imprisoned for non-payment of their fine.”

Steps taken to improve fine enforcement include working with magistrates to get more fines paid on the day they are imposed, increased telephone debt chasing and better trained and equipped court enforcement officers.

Fines can be paid via the National Fine Payment Line on 0300 790 9901 (England) or 0300 790 9980 (Wales) or online at www.direct.gov.uk/payacourtfine.