The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) has recently emphasised the importance of paying criminal fines, and issued a reminder of the measures it can take to recover unpaid fines.
The SCTS has highlighted the case of a Scottish Premiership footballer who apparently repeatedly failed to settle a fine imposed for a road offence but eventually had to pay up after his wages were arrested.
The fine was imposed at a court in England for driving a car without a valid test certificate and enforcement was transferred to Scotland after the footballer moved north.
Despite promising to pay after warning letters were sent out, no cash was received so the earnings arrestment order was issued at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and the footballer settled the £150 fine.
Arresting wages is one of a number of measures available to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service for recovering unpaid fines. Other measures include freezing bank accounts, taking money directly from benefits, clamping vehicles and even arresting non-payers.
Other examples given by the SCTS include a man from Ayrshire, who had repeatedly failed to pay up after being fined for theft and ended up getting arrested over his outstanding fine. The man, who was fined at Ayr JP Court, owed £1455 of the £1750 total. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he settled the bill immediately after being held by police.
People owing outstanding fines across Scotland have also paid up thousands of pounds after having their vehicles clamped. A Lanarkshire driver had to pay £1075 for outstanding fines for two road traffic and three drugs offences imposed at Airdrie Sheriff Court and Coatbridge JP Court after a clamping order was issued on his vehicle. In addition, two drivers convicted at Paisley JP Court of road traffic offences had to settle outstanding sums of £400 and £330.
Fife has also seen its share of fine enforcement action. A woman from Rosyth ended up with her car clamped after failing to pay a £300 fine for driving without insurance. In the end she had to pay the fine plus additional clamping charges before her car was released, reports the Dunfermline Press.
Despite these highlighted cases, the fines collection rate has been consistently strong, according to SCTS. Around 88% of the value of Sheriff Court fines imposed during the three-year period between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2016 has either been fully paid or is on track to be paid through instalments. This is a 3% increase when compared with the value paid as at 11th October 2016.
“The fines enforcement team continue to be highly effective in securing unpaid fines – ignoring your fine and not speaking to an enforcement officer if you are having difficulty paying is very unwise,” commented SCTS Chief Operations Officer David Fraser. “Failure to pay, or to engage with our officers, will result in strong sanctions being taken including arrestment of wages, bank accounts, your car being clamped or inconvenience and embarrassment by being arrested when travelling abroad.”
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