Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




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Thursday, 30 April 2015

NOBODY WANTS TO KNOW



The topic of fines has been here previously, previously and previously.............It doesn`t go away because governments of all persuasions have no provision for a final deterrent against non payers.  Of course the usual claptrap about means courts and ability to pay are used as an argument as to why up to £2 billion in fines, costs, surcharges etc is unpaid.  The numbers and arguments here in a single court in Northern Ireland serve as a microcosm of the situation in Great Britain.  It is virtually impossible to find official current figures for the numbers jailed for non payment of fines etc. for offences committed in England & Wales.  Page 19 of this document is the nearest I can find.  The estimate is that about 100 fine defaulters are jailed annually. Perhaps that insignificant number is why that £2 billion is owed to the Treasury when one includes all manner of unpaid Fixed Penalty Notices.  When there is no active deterrent to wilful non payers the system is a joke.  Of course such opinions are anathema to those in authority.  Well known organisations are on the phone to all and sundry when news of a Council Tax or TV License non payer of a fine lawfully imposed refuses to pay and after perhaps a year of hearings is  sentenced to 7 days inside.  This is aggravated by the pressure from the same organisations and others to remove the ability of Magistrates` Courts to impose custodial sentences in any cases whatsoever. Nobody from individual magistrates to prison governors wants these people put away but what is an alternative?  Whilst fines are the most common sentence in our courts, mainly in the lower court system, without enforcement they have no meaning.  But as with most matters in the justice system the public doesn`t care and politicians don`t want to know.

3 comments:

  1. Does that 100 seem reasonable to you? If that is the case I am responsible for 25% of all custodial sentences for non payment...

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  2. You've misread p19 of the report. The POPULATION is roughly 100 at any time not 100 new admissions per annum. You could integrate under the curve - but I'd guess its more like 6000 per annum...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the correction; less haste more speed......

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