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Tackling fine dodgers
Six hundred of the country's 'worst fine dodgers' are being targeted in a crackdown by the Scottish Court Service on those who attempt to 'avoid the ends of justice'.
The range of tactics being used by the court service in their pursuit of those who don't pay up includes seizing wages, freezing bank accounts, deducting money from benefits and clamping vehicles.
The announcement comes as the latest fines collection figures are published by the Scottish Court Service.
The figures show:
- Overall fine collection rates in Scotland are consistently high with 88 per cent of the value of Sheriff Court fines over the three year period (April 1 2006 to March 31, 2009) either fully paid or on track to be paid through instalments
- Around 94 per cent of the value of Sheriff Court fines imposed in year 2006-7 has either been paid fully or is on track to be paid, illustrating the commitment to recovering outstanding fines which can be paid over a number of years
- Fiscal direct penalties stand at 60 per cent either fully paid or on track to be paid by instalments. This compares to around a 40per cent collection rate prior to the programme of Summary Justice Reform
Eric McQueen, Director of Field Services, Scottish Court Service said:
"Many people accept their punishment of a fine and pay up without a problem but fine dodgers can no longer hide.
"We are hitting the worst defaulters hardest but the message to anyone with a fine is that your fine must be paid. If you don't, using new tracing systems, we will not hesitate to seize your wages, arrest your bank account or deduct payment from your benefits.
"We have increased our use of these direct sanctions by almost 60% over the past two months. Our enforcement sanctions are working and we are now accelerating their use.
"Don't think your fine will go away - it won't - and the consequences of non-payment are severe. "
In Glasgow a footballer had a £375 fine for breach of the peace and assault. Payment was not forthcoming and the Fines Enforcement Officer tracked down his club. An earnings arrestment order was made to his employer and full payment was then received.
In Peterhead, a notification of a Seizure of Vehicle Order was made to an offender with 13 unpaid fines (relating to failures to display a road tax fund licence and unpaid parking tickets) with a value of £810. This intervention by the Fines Enforcement Officer brought the offender to the court the following day where she fully paid the whole outstanding balance of £810
In Greenock an offender was fined £600 for road traffic offences. Warning letters and two citations to fines enquiry courts were issued but the offender failed to appear and warrants were granted. A deduction from benefit order was applied for in October 2008. Now regular monthly payments of £20 are being received from the offender's benefits.
The Scottish Court Service figures cover the period where fines were issued by March 31, 2009 and where payments were received against those fines by July 6, 2009. Future collection publications will reflect the results from the increased enforcement action.