Crackdown over unpaid court fines

CRIMINALS who try to avoid paying their court fines are to be targeted in a month-long campaign in Sussex.

Operation Crackdown has been relaunched this month (February) by Her Majesty’s Courts Service.

It will see court enforcement officers and local police in Sussex 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 first Operation Crackdown blitz which took place in February last year saw 9,425 warrants executed and £1.02m collected across England and Wales.

The overall result was that 14.7 per cent more cash was collected than in February 2009.

Julia Eeles, HMCS area director for Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 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 of 2009-10, 122,316 warrants to seize and sell goods were issued by magistrates’ courts in the south east.

In the 12 months to September 2010, 978 Attachment of Earnings Orders and 16,350 Deduction from Benefits Orders were issued in Sussex.