Court fine dodgers will get a home visit soon

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A TOUGH crackdown has been launched in a bid to claw back cash from court fine dodgers.

Police from Sunderland and Durham will be targeting the homes of those failing to honour their court debts this month.

As part of Operation Crackdown, bailiffs will also be issued with warrants to confiscate property from those who neglect to pay their fines.

And those who refuse to cooperate face being arrested, with court time being set aside to deal specifically with fine dodgers.

Sheila Proudlock, Her Majesty’s Court Service area director for Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria, 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.”

Between September 2009 and September 2010, 1,630 attachments of earnings orders were issued across Durham and 5,178 for Northumbria.

A total of 11,649 deduction from benefits orders were issued across Durham and 32,424 for Northumbria.

And last February’s Operation Crackdown saw a total of 9,425 warrants executed across the UK, with more than £1.02million collected.

The campaign saw 14.7 per cent more cash collected than the previous year.

A string of measures have also been introduced to help improve fine enforcement, including better trained officers with more tracing tools to track down fine dodgers.

Court officers are also working closely with magistrates to get more fines paid on the day they are imposed.

Debt chasing over the phone is also been used more, as well as texting non-compliant offenders to warn them of the consequences of not stumping up the cash for their fine.

Fines can be paid by phoning the National Fine Payment Line on 0300 790 9901 or online at www.direct.gov.uk/payacourtfine.