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Courts Act 2003

Fines Officers

34.The Act includes provisions to create the role of fines officer who may be appointed or provided under contract by the Lord Chancellor.

35.The Act creates the role of “a fines officer” to take enforcement action in certain circumstances, thus removing the need for all enforcement decisions to be taken by a court. A fines collection system (Schedule 5) has been set up which introduces financial incentives to offenders to pay their fines, as well as providing a range of new disincentives for fine default, including wider powers to make attachments of earnings orders (AOE) and deductions from benefits (DFB). The system is designed to encourage payment but will include new penalties for those who have the means and will not pay. The Act also introduces new sanctions for failing to provide information necessary to make AOE orders and DFB applications. For those who are unable to pay a fine, the Act introduces (in Schedule 6) a system for discharging fines by unpaid work.

36.The Act provides for the new system to be piloted and, if necessary, modified before a permanent scheme is introduced. The intention is to ensure that fines are seen as credible and effective punishments.

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