In the Media

Clamp on fines dodgers extended

PUBLISHED April 13, 2006

A SUCCESSFUL crackdown on fines dodgers which gives courts the power to clamp evaders' cars and deduct cash from their wages or benefits has been extended across the country.

The scheme has been piloted over the last two years and proved particularly fruitful in West Yorkshire, where collection rates have risen from just 46 per cent to 85 per cent.

Under the new rules, courts also have the power to put dodgers on credit blacklists.

Offenders who genuinely cannot pay can apply to convert fines into unpaid work instead.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman said: "Court-imposed fines are not a soft option, but to ensure they are a credible sentencing option they need to be enforced and that's what this new scheme does."

Ms Harman said victims were the main beneficiaries of the scheme because many fines often included an order for compensation.
Magistrates courts now have access to databases including the Police National Computer to help track down offenders, while the use of telephone debt chasing has also risen.

Tests are also beginning this month on the new National Enforcement Service, which will eventually chase and collect fines.

Ms Harman added: "The tough new sanctions make it easier to punish criminals, and before some of them have an opportunity to re-offend."