I`ve posted in the past on unpaid fines which currently total around £500 million and rising. Routine pronouncements from the bench when issuing fines, costs etc include stating that a collection order will be made if the fine is not paid according to the agreed schedule. That means that without further formality bailiffs can be given instructions of seizure. All very well in theory but different in practice.
Reality television has made the daily work of bailiffs a half hour series of entertainment. Bailiffs of course work for any contractor who has unpaid sums owing from a customer for services rendered…….from the sale of a car to the supply of a parking space. Unpaid court fines` procedure allows for an offender to be arrested and brought to court to explain his non compliance with the court order. Either of two findings can be made by the court which allow the offender to be imprisoned for his reluctance to part with his/her cash; wilful refusal to pay or culpable negligence to pay. Custody can be up to seven days for an amount unpaid not exceeding £200 to one year for a sum in excess of £10,000. The major problem for the courts is the hoops through which they have to jump to impose a jail sentence.
It was interesting therefore to read a report in This is Cornwall about the police in Truro in conjunction with the local magistrates` court attempting to prise some outstanding fines from the reluctant hands of offenders.
For some people only direct action of this nature with the threat of imprisonment will force payment. With the stated policy of the Coalition to reduce the numbers of prisoners come what may there is absolutely no prospect whatsoever of the fines deficit being reduced……..another story of too much carrot and not enough stick.