Magistrates are to get unlimited fining powers under a statutory instrument laid before parliament today bringing in to force provisions of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
??For most offences the maximum level of fine that can be given by magistrates will increase by 400%, while for offences with a current maximum of £5,000 or more magistrates will have unlimited powers to fine.??
Those convicted of less serious summary offences, such as speeding, driving without insurance, minor disorderly behaviour or the sale of alcohol to a child, will face increased financial penalties.
The maximum level 1 fines, for offences such as unauthorised cycle racing on public ways, will increase from £200 to £800.
??Level 2 fines will rise from £500 to £2,000 for offences including driving a motor cycle without a helmet.
??Level 3 fines will rise from £1,000 to £4,000 for offences including the sale of alcohol to a drunk person or being drunk and disorderly in a public place.
Level 4 fines will rise from £2,500 to £10,000 for offences including speeding on the motorway.??
Justice minister Jeremy Wright said: 'Magistrates are the cornerstone of our justice system and these changes will provide them with greater powers to deal with the day-to-day offences that impact their local communities.'
The Ministry of Justice stressed that custody will continue to be used for serious offenders and that fines will not become an alternative for custodial sentences. ??
The amount of fines collected reached an all-time high of £284m at the end of 2012/13 and collection continued to rise in the last financial year. ??