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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 02:50 GMT 03:50 UK
Credit checks expose fine-dodgers
Man arrested in Operation Payback
The data will help trace offenders who breach community penalties
The government has agreed a deal with credit reference agency Equifax to access its computer database to track down offenders defaulting on fines.

The information will also be used to trace offenders who breach community sentences or supervision orders.

Magistrates' court committees across England and Wales will be able to examine 500 million separate records.

They include data on millions of people - from the electoral roll, and credit card and loan applications.

It is estimated 700 court staff will make up to 1.5 million inquiries during the course of the initial one-year contract.

Equifax managing director Michael Shannon said: "With access to Equifax's wide variety and depth of information sources, which are constantly updated, magistrates will be able to identify a defaulter's new address if they have attempted to move to conceal their whereabouts."

It shows we are serious about pursuing those who flout an order of the courts
Courts Minister Christopher Leslie

Her Majesty's Courts Service chief executive Sir Ron De Witt, said: "One of the major advantages of this project is that we don't have to reinvent the wheel.

"Magistrates' courts can tap into an existing resource, making it a cost-effective way of tracing offenders as well as being more efficient."

Courts Minister Christopher Leslie said "offenders who refuse to comply with their penalty and have either moved, changed their name or telephone number" would now be traced "much more quickly and easily".

"It shows we are serious about pursuing those who flout an order of the courts," he added.

"It is a significant additional tool in magistrates' enforcement armoury, which reinforces our commitment to bringing offenders to justice and improve the level of confidence in the criminal justice system."

Squad pinpoints fine defaulters
09 Sep 04  |  Norfolk
Fine-dodgers threatened with jail
10 Jul 04  |  Staffordshire
Fine flouters arrested by police
24 Mar 04  |  Staffordshire
Court clampdown on fine dodgers
08 Mar 04  |  Lancashire

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