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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 07:55 GMT
'Yob fines' pilot for street crime
Police tape in street
Offenders could be handed notices in the street
People who commit public order offences could soon be fined upto 80 on the spot by police in north Wales under a new pilot scheme.

Officers can issue fixed penalty notices for a range of offences, such as being drunk and disorderly, throwing fireworks, and trespassing on a railway.

80 fixed penalty offences
Wasting police time
Sending false messages
Knowingly giving a false alarm to a fire brigade
Causing harassment, alarm or distress

North Wales Police is one of five force areas in the UK where the scheme is to be tested, according to reports.

But the Home Office has played down the planned fines are a done deal, saying no decision on pilot areas had been taken.

The fines will vary between 40 and 80 depending on the offence and follow legislation decreed in the 2001 Criminal Justice and Police Act, drawn up in 2001.

It is the latest element in UK Home Secretary David Blunkett's assault on street crime.

Earlier in March, the minister, who will give more details at Wales Labour's spring conference in Llandudno later, revealed plans for civilian wardens to assist police officers.

The idea first came up when Tony Blair suggested taking yobs to cashpoints to pay fines.

The prime minister was criticised and praised in equal measure, but the fines will now be payable at a later date and can be challenged in court.

While no starting date for the scheme has been set yet, it is likely to be later this year.

The other forces involved are the West Midlands, the Metropolitan Police, Essex and British Transport Police.

But the idea has been labelled "flawed" by the North Wales Police Federation.

"In reality, people don't want yobs left outside their homes - they want them removed," secretary elect Richard Eccles said.

"We have the poer to arrest and detain these people and that is what people in north Wales want."

Conservative home affairs spokesperson Dominic Greaves added: "If people are misbehaving in the streets, neighbours will want them removed,"

"Merely handing them a notice is not going to address the problem.

"The way to deal with them is quick arresting and to bring them before the courts."

And the Conservatives have voiced scepticism

Time limit

"This has followed on from comments made by the Prime Minister some time ago referring to offenders for drinking offences being fined on the spot," said Deputy Assistant Constable Steve House, the officer in charge of the introduction of the scheme.

40 fixed penalty offences
Throwing fireworks
Wilful obstruction other than with a vehicle
Drunk and disorderly
Trespassing on a railway
Throwing stones at trains
Drunk in a highway
Buying alcohol for under 18s
Drinking in a designated place
"This led to the Association of Chief Police Officers looking at the possibility of fixed penalty notices for a range of offences.

"This will not be on-the-spot fines and there will be no collection of money by police officers," stressed Mr House.

"An offender will probably be able to pay within a set time at a certain amount.

"It will be 40 or 80 depending on the offence but presumably there may be an increase in the amount to be paid if they take the case to court and are found guilty."

Mr House also revealed the notices will only be issued by police officers and not by civilian staff.

"Officers will either carry a book of notices, or the notices book may be kept elsewhere and brought to an officer who needs it," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Richard Eccles, North Wales Police Federation
"In reality, the plan is flawed"
Dominic Greaves, Conservative
"This is not going to address the problem"
BBC Wales's Colette Hume
"The Maesgierchan estate in Bangor is one of the areas that could benefit from the new scheme"
 VOTE RESULTS
Are fines for street offences a good idea?

Yes
 70.13% 

No
 29.87% 

154 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


More news from north east Wales
See also:

22 Dec 99 | Wales
PC's hospital beat
19 Feb 02 | Wales
No drinking zones introduced
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