Thousands of people are being consigned to a new class of "semi-criminals" by Tony Blair's policy of on-the-spot fines for minor offenders, the Government was warned yesterday.

But in a withering assessment of the new system, coinciding with the first anniversary on Friday of the fines being introduced nationwide, a leading criminal justice think-tank accused the Government of "putting punishment before justice". The Crime and Society Foundation warned: "PNDs erode justice in the name of speedier punishment."

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