Police to issue on-the-spot fines
By Danielle NuttallCrime CorrespondentPOLICE are to use new powers that will see people caught committing minor offences given on-the-spot fines.From tomorrow, adults caught committing one of 11 offences in Suffolk - including being drunk and disorderly - could find themselves being handed a fixed penalty notice for either £40 or £80.
By Danielle Nuttall
POLICE are to use new powers that will see people caught committing minor offences given on-the-spot fines.
From tomorrow, adults caught committing one of 11 offences in Suffolk - including being drunk and disorderly - could find themselves being handed a fixed penalty notice for either £40 or £80.
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Offences that will result in a £80 fine include wasting police time, making nuisance calls, giving a false alarm to the fire brigade, throwing fireworks and causing alarm or distress.
A further six offences - being drunk and disorderly, trespass on a railway, throwing stones at a train, being drunk in a highway, buying alcohol for someone under 18 and drinking in a designated area - will lead to a £40 fine.
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Initially, tickets will only be handed out at police stations following the detention of an offender.
People who are issued with a penalty notice will have the option of either paying the fine or appearing before a court.
Suffolk Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter said the new scheme was not a “dumbing down” of these offences, but provided an extra tool for officers dealing with offenders.
“It's not the 'marching people up to the cash machine to draw the money out' approach which was in the media. It's moved on considerably since then through the trial periods,” he added.
“Everyone has the option of going to court if they want to. In terms of savings, an individual offence might take anything up to eight hours for completion of files.
“This is not a dumbing down of these offences, it's actually seeing an alternative way of dealing with those at the minor end of the scale. It's about saving public money because you are cutting out the court process.
“The penalty is less than what people would get if you they went to court with court costs. It's not about a tax in any way.”
The tickets will be issued to people aged 18 and above, although police aim to implement a similar scheme for young offenders later in the year.
The scheme - which underwent a trial in Essex, West Midlands, North Wales, and the British Transport and Metropolitan Police areas - will be introduced in west Suffolk from tomorrow and across the whole county from June 1.