Courts among the best at fine collection

COURTS in Essex and Suffolk are among the best in the country at collecting fines, it has been revealed.Offenders in Merseyside have the worst record in England and Wales for paying court fines with only one-third of fines collected by the county's Magistrates Court Committee from April 2002 to March 2003, in stark contrast to 87% in Warwickshire.

COURTS in Essex and Suffolk are among the best in the country at collecting fines, it has been revealed.

Offenders in Merseyside have the worst record in England and Wales for paying court fines with only one-third of fines collected by the county's Magistrates Court Committee from April 2002 to March 2003, in stark contrast to 87% in Warwickshire.

Overall performance in England and Wales was "poor", with 45% of fines not paid - well below the national target of 68%. Essex was eighth best with a collection rate of 74%, with Suffolk in 12th place with a 69% performance.

Figures for the 42 court areas of England and Wales were published yesterday as Lord Falconer's new Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) unveiled plans to improve fine collection.


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Under the proposals, fines will no longer be written off after 12 months, but will be chased until they are paid. Each court will also have the power to deduct fines from the offenders' pay or benefits if they do not pay up.

Failing to provide details of income and expenditure to allow deductions will become a new offence. Fines will be increased if offenders fail to pay up on time, while those who pay earlier could get reductions.

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But offenders who are genuinely unable to pay the fine will be made to do unpaid work in the community as an alternative punishment.

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