Page last updated at 02:13 GMT, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Delays to on-the-spot fine plans

Police jacket
The new powers had been expected to come in next week

Plans to increase the number of offences punishable by on-the-spot fines have been delayed amid concerns voiced by magistrates.

Ministers wanted to give police in England and Wales powers to impose 80 penalties for 21 more offences but agreed to consult further.

The offences included threatening to damage property and failing to leave licensed premises.

Spot fines for cannabis possession will be introduced "as soon as possible".

The drug will be restored to class B status next week. Police can currently only warn or prosecute people caught in possession of it.

A parliamentary order covering the other measures was due for debate on Monday and the powers were expected to come into effect next week.

However, the plans to extend penalty notices for disorder have been heavily criticised by the Magistrates Association, which said some of the offences were too serious to be dealt with out of court and that payment rates were low.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "The government has listened to concerns about certain aspects of extending the penalty-notice-for-disorder-scheme and has decided to consult more widely on the new offences to be included."

Once consultation is complete, the government will lay a new order proposing a further list of offences, she added.

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