HC Deb 22 July 2004 vol 424 cc593-4W
Mr. Wiggin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the procedures for issuing fixed penalty notices by police officers. [183177]

Caroline Flint

Police issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for traffic offences under the powers set out in Part III of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991. Fixed penalties are currently available for about 150 different traffic offences.

Where a driver is detected committing a fixed penalty offence, the police will decide what action to take in the particular case. The driver may be given an informal warning or issued with a fixed penalty notice or reported for prosecution. The police operate to Association of Chief Officer of Police (ACPO) guidelines advising on what course of action might be appropriate but it is in law ultimately a matter for the individual officer's decision.

Fixed penalty notices for traffic offences may be issued using one of four different procedures. One involves fixing the FPN to the vehicle. This is normally used for parking offences. The FPN may be issued to the driver at the time of the offence in two sets of circumstances: one for non-endorsable offences, such as failure to wear a seat belt, the other for an endorsable offence, such as speeding. For endorsable offences, the driver has to produce his driving licence at the roadside or later at a police station. The fourth procedure is used to deal with offending drivers detected by automatic speed camera and involves sending a conditional fixed penalty offer to the person identified by the vehicle number plate as being the registered keeper.

Police may also issue fixed penalty notices for disorder offences. Guidance has been provided by the Secretary of State for police, community support officers and persons accredited by a Chief Constable under community safety accreditation schemes under section 6 of the Act. Supplementary guidance has also been provided on the issue of fixed penalty notices to persons aged 16 and 17-years-old since the scheme was extended to them in January 2004. Copies of the guidance are available on the Home Office website at: http://www.homeoffice. gov. uk/crimpol/police/penalty/ index.html

The main police operational guidance is currently being revised and a new version will be provided to the police and published shortly. The Home Office continues to take feedback from the police on the operation of the fixed penalty notice for disorder scheme so that guidance may be updated as and when necessary.

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