Headlines: April 23rd, 2004

Special prosecutors to handle anti social behaviour cases and tougher procedures for collecting fines from people who persistently refuse to pay up for criminal offences such as vandalism, complete the loop of measures to target low level crime. The measures are an important step as they close the circle that starts out on the streets and ends in the courts. See Publicnet 21st April on the success of coalitions of stakeholders and neighbourhood wardens in reducing anti-social behaviour.The prosecutors, stationed across the country, will be responsible to the local community for pursuing anti-social behaviour cases through the courts. Under new laws, they will also be able to apply for Anti Social Behaviour Orders. They will be local experts in the types of powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour and a central contact point for all local agencies dealing with the problem.

The Crown Prosecution Service will also play a pivotal role in tackling anti-social behaviour by setting up a multi-agency project with representatives from all the key agencies to ensure the new powers are used effectively. Specialist prosecutors will work in partnership with the police and local authority in their area to establish workable arrangements.

Fine dodgers who persistently refuse to pay up for criminal offences such as vandalism, and disorderly behaviour will be relentlessly pursued as a ground-breaking new scheme gets underway in England and Wales. Pilot projects in six regional areas will test different approaches to enforcement of fines. As well as Attachment of Earnings Orders and Deductions from Benefits, other measures will include increasing the fine by up to 50% if it is not paid in full and on time, vehicle clamping, and a registering system which creates a blacklist with a knock on effect on the credit rating of the defaulter.