HL Deb 26 June 1995 vol 565 cc42-4WA
Lord Harris of Greenwich

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many (a) women and (b) men were imprisoned for fine default in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

Baroness Blatch

Provisional information for the number of women and men imprisoned for fine default in 1993 and 1994 respectively is given in the table attached.

The power to imprison fine defaulters may only be used as a final sanction where the court has inquired into the offender's means and is satisfied that the default is due to the offender's wilful refusal or culpable neglect and has considered or tried all other methods of enforcing payment of the sum and it appears to the court that they are inappropriate or unsuccessful. In the case of defaulters aged 18–20, the court may instead of issuing a warrant of committal make an attendance centre order if such a disposal is available locally.

When a fine has been imposed on an offender by a court it may require immediate payment, allow time for payment, or order payment by instalments. If it orders payment by instalments, it may at the same time, if the court deems it appropriate, make a money payments supervision order or, if the offender requests it, make an attachment of earnings order.

If an offender subsequently defaults on payment, then the court is required to inquire again into his or her financial circumstances. A fine may be remitted in whole or in part where the original sentence was imposed on the basis of insufficient information about the financial circumstances of the offender or if circumstances have changed since the conviction. Periodical payments or further time to pay may be ordered in cases where that would be appropriate.

The magistrates' court enforcing the fine may also use any of the following range of powers available to it:

  • it can make a money payments supervision order;
  • it can make an attachment of earnings order;
  • it can make an application for deductions to be made from an offender's income support; and
  • it may issue a distress warrant where the defaulter has goods which may be sold to meet the fine;

where the defaulter is under 18:

  • the parent or guardian (whose consent must be obtained) can be ordered to enter into a recognisance to ensure that the defaulter pays, provided the court is satisfied that the defaulter has had the means to pay and has refused or neglected to pay; or
  • the parent or guardian can be ordered to pay the fine provided the court is satisfied that the defaulter has had the means to pay and has refused or neglected to pay.

A working group on the enforcement of financial penalties has been set up by the Lord Chancellor's Department to identify and promote good practice in the enforcement of financial penalties and recommend procedural, administrative or legislative changes which would improve the enforcement of financial penalties. A study has also been commissioned by the Home Office Research and Planning Unit to examine the use made of

Numbers of livebirths, stillbirths and deaths under one year for the United Kingdom and in the five largest metropolitan areas outside London for 1993
Livebirths Stillbirths1 Deaths under one year2
Number Rate Number Rate
United Kingdom 761,710 4,394 5.7 4,830 6.3
Greater Manchester 35,566 220 6.1 247 6.9
Merseyside 18,490 105 5.6 99 5.4
South Yorkshire 17,109 87 5.1 138 8.1
West Midlands 37,736 240 6.3 290 7.7
West Yorkshire 28,829 178 6.1 206 7.1
1 Rate per 1,000 live and stillbirths.
2 Rate per 1,000 livebirths.

each of the enforcement methods available to the courts. The findings of the study will help to inform the considerations of the working group.

Receptions of fine defaulters into Prison Service establishments in

England and Wales, 1993–1994

11993 11994
Males Females Males Females
All receptions 21,097 1,306 21,303 1,420
1Provisional figures.