Fine dodgers warned of bailiff raids

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COURT fine dodgers in Northumberland could see their homes raided in a month-long operation to recover the cash.

Operation Crackdown is being conducted by enforcement officers from Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) and local police to collect unpaid fines.

Bailiffs will be issued with warrants to confiscate property and offenders who refuse to co-operate could be arrested, with court time set aside specifically to deal with them.

A similar operation last year saw 9,425 warrants executed and £1.02million collected across the country, with the result that 14.7 per cent more in fines was collected than in February 2009.

HMCS Area Director Sheila Proudlock 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.”

In the 2009/2010 financial year, magistrates’ courts in the North East issued 84,011 warrants to seize and sell goods, while in Northumbria, 5,178 attachment of earnings orders were issued, along with 32,424 deduction from benefits orders.

Fines can be paid by telephone on 0300 7909901 or online at www.direct.gov.uk/payacourtfine