People who try to avoid paying court fines across England & Wales will be targeted in a month-long campaign launched by Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS) today.
Operation Crackdown will see HMCS Court Enforcement Officers (CEOs) and local police in London engaging in a series of blitzes on offenders' homes to collect unpaid fines.
Bailiffs will also be issued with warrants to confiscate property. Where necessary, those who refuse to co-operate will be arrested. Court time will be set aside to deal specifically with fine dodgers.
The Operation Crackdown blitz which took place in February 2010 saw 9425 warrants executed and £1.02m collected across England & Wales. The overall result was that 14.7% more cash was collected than in February 2009
Dave Weston, HMCS Area Director for London Central and South, said:
"Our message to fine dodgers is clear: pay up now or face the consequences.
"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."
In the financial year 09-10 123,370 warrants to seize and sell goods were issued by magistrates' courts in London.
In the 12 months to September 2010 1176 Attachment of Earnings Orders and 63,676 Deduction from Benefits Orders were issued in London.
Steps taken to improve HMCS fine enforcement nationwide include:
* Better trained and equipped CEOs, with more tracing tools at their disposal to track down fine dodgers and the completion of a national rollout of secure cell vehicles.
* Working with magistrates to get more fines paid on the day they are imposed.
* Full access to the DWP benefits information for HMCS staff to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of collection and enforcement.
* Full rollout of new payment methods including payment cards and the ability to pay fines on line.
* Increased telephone debt chasing.
* Texting non-compliant offenders to warn them of the consequences of non-payment.
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.
1. Her Majesty's Courts Service is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. Our remit is to deliver justice effectively and efficiently to the public. We are responsible for managing the magistrates' courts, the Crown Court, county courts, the High Court and Court of Appeal in England and Wales. For more information visit: http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/
2. An attachment of earnings order is a method by which money will be taken from a defendant's wages to pay a debt.
3. If you would like to interview a local HMCS spokesperson about Operation Crackdown activities in your area, please contact HMCS Press Office.
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept