Spot fine collection shock
AROUND a third of all on-the-spot fines given to thugs and thieves in Suffolk have not been paid, it emerged today.Penalties of either £50 or £80 are given to shoplifters, drunks and yobs as a form of “instant justice” to avoid the need for lengthy court proceedings.
AROUND a third of all on-the-spot fines given to thugs and thieves in Suffolk have not been paid, it emerged today.
Penalties of either £50 or £80 are given to shoplifters, drunks and yobs as a form of “instant justice” to avoid the need for lengthy court proceedings.
But new figures show that 34 per cent of the 636 tickets issued Suffolk in 2004/05 went unpaid, while 31pc of the 1,054 handed out in 2005/06 were also ignored.
Police Federation chairman Jan Berry said: “This form of 'instant justice' is designed to ease pressure on police and on the courts.
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“However, when hardcore repeat offenders do not pay up it simply results in more time and money being spent on pursuing the debt through the courts.”
David Ruffley, Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, said: “If you slap a fine on a 60-year-old drunk, the chances of getting them to pay is zero.
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“This pathetic Government's gimmick was never a serious response to anti-social and yobbish crime in Suffolk.”
But the Home Office defended the scheme, saying it saves police time and helps officers provide instant punishment for more minor offences.
A spokesman said: “Penalty notices for disorder provide swift and effective justice, allowing police to concentrate on more serious violent crime.
“We believe it is appropriate to deal with simple, straightforward cases in this prompt way.”
Suffolk Constabulary also backed the fixed penalty scheme, which is imposed on a “discretionary basis”.
A spokesman said: “Fixed penalty notices for disorder are an effective means of dealing with and deterring low-level anti-social and nuisance offending.
“It also reduces bureaucracy, which allows officers to spend more time out on the streets offering reassurance and dealing with crime.”
The spokesman said the collection of fines not paid within 21 days is organised by the courts.
Fines of £80 can be imposed for offences including being drunk and disorderly, damaging property and wasting police time.
And £50 penalties can be given to people committing crimes that include trespassing on a railway line, dropping litter or throwing stones at a train.
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