Ford outlines plans to tackle fine defaulters in NI

Motorists who refuse to pay their court fines could have their vehicles seized or clamped under new proposals.

Justice Minister David Ford has launched a public consultation to tackle the problem of people not paying fines.

They could also have their licence endorsed under the proposals.

Deductions could also be taken from salaries or benefits from those who refuse to pay their fines in full.

Mr Ford said: "Over the past number of years there have been an increasing number of people ending up in prison simply for the non-payment of a fine.

"Around 1,700 people - nearly one third of all prison receptions - have been going into prison each year for very short periods of time for not paying their fines.

'Obligations'

"The justice system needs to do better by helping people avoid default and, where that possibility arises, to provide a range of payment options so that they do not end up in prison."

The paper identifies four key areas for improvement

Targeting the fine

Encouraging payment

Dealing with default

Delivering the service

The justice minister said the proposals are "not about targeting those who cannot pay their fines".

"We want to put in place systems to support them to meet their obligations.

"But we must look at new ways of tackling those who simply refuse to pay their fines and opt for a short stay in custody instead.

"The cost to the justice system, both in financial and administrative terms, demands that we must arrive at a better way of dealing with this problem.

"This consultation looks at how we can do this and create a fine setting system that is effective, efficient and fair."

The consultation will run until 14 October.

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