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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Hi-tech fines to save police time
The force hopes the PDAs will reduce paperwork
A police force is believed to be the first in Scotland to issue on-the-spot fines for anti-social behaviour using hand-held electronic notebooks.

Lothian and Borders Police said the PDA devices would cut the amount of time its officers spent dealing with relatively minor offences.

Officers will be able to use the PDAs to issue 40 fixed penalties for many low-level antisocial offences.

It is estimated the process will save officers a total of two hours per fine.

The offences for which fixed penalties can be imposed include minor breaches of the peace, vandalism, public drunkenness and urinating in the street.

These notices should act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour
Colin Peebles
Lothian and Borders Police

The notices give offenders the opportunity to pay a fixed fine of 40 directly to the court or request a court hearing, which will result in a police officer submitting a report to the procurator fiscal.

The force hopes the amount of time previously spent by officers making an arrest, taking the person into a police station, completing paperwork and attending court will be significantly reduced.

The PDA devices will electronically transfer relevant information to the district courts, saving more time for police officers and court staff.

Colin Peebles, director of corporate services at Lothian and Borders Police, said the force expected to issue about 1,700 fixed penalties a year, which would save at least 425 officer days a year.

Criminal conviction

Mr Peebles added: "These notices should act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour being committed whilst maximising the amount of time police officers can spend dealing with issues of a more serious nature.

"The issue of a fixed penalty notice is designed to enhance the options available to officers when dealing with an incident, however it does not affect an officer's discretion or impact upon their power of arrest.

"At the same time, Lothian and Borders Police is proud to be the first in Scotland to use PDA e-notebooks to issue the notices, thereby freeing even more police time."

Payment of a fixed penalty notice will not be recorded as a criminal conviction, but anyone who receives more than two in a six-month period will be reported to the fiscal as normal, as will anyone with recent convictions for anti-social behaviour offences.

Tayside Police issued more than 3,000 fixed penalty notices when they piloted the scheme between April 2005 and April 2006, with only 1% of offenders requesting court appearances.

On-the-spot fines target disorder
01 May 07 |  Edinburgh and East
Anti-social fines come into force
05 Mar 07 |  South of Scotland
Police given new disorder powers
13 Feb 07 |  Tayside and Central

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