Fines dodgers brought down to earth at airports

Feb 23, 2018

Fines dodgers have been warned to pay up before they try to fly after a number of non-payers were arrested at airports in Scotland and England.

A man coming back from holiday in the Netherlands with a group of friends was arrested at Liverpool Airport over unpaid fines amounting to £770. The man, from Annan, who was returning from Amsterdam, had been fined at Dumfries Sheriff Court for possession of drugs and road offences including careless driving and avoided paying since 2016.

His fine was settled by a family member but not before another member of the group of friends was also identified as a non-payer with an outstanding total of £600 in fines. He had unpaid fines for speeding imposed at Selkirk JP Court and paid up online.

Two men getting ready to fly from Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports were also arrested for unpaid fines. An Airdrie man with fines from Paisley and Coatbridge JP Courts for three offences of driving without insurance and urinating in the street was held as he was about to fly off on holiday to Turkey from Glasgow. He had to settle the £860 bill before being allowed to continue. In Edinburgh, a man who owed £300 for speeding fines at Dumfries JP Court was stopped on his way through the airport and paid up in full before he was released.

Arresting non-payers at ports and airports is one of a number of measures available to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) for recovering unpaid fines.

A new report released by SCTS reveals that the fines collection rate remains consistently strong. It shows that 86% of the value of Sheriff Court fines imposed during the three-year period between 1st April 2014 and 31 March 2017 has either been paid or is on track to be paid – a rise of two percentage points compared with the figure at 11 October 2017. Of JP Court fines imposed from 1 April to 30 September 2017, 81% by value has been paid or is on track to be paid by instalments.

SCTS Chief Operations Officer David Fraser said: “The fines enforcement teams continue to be highly effective in securing unpaid fines – ignoring your fine and not speaking to an enforcement officer if you are having difficulty paying is very unwise. Failure to pay, or to engage with our officers, will result in strong sanctions being taken including arrestment of wages, bank accounts, your car being clamped or inconvenience and embarrassment by being arrested when travelling abroad.”

Other enforcement measures include clamping vehicles, arresting wages, taking money directly from benefits and even freezing bank accounts.

Three Glasgow men who found their bank accounts had been frozen paid up more than £2100 between them for fines imposed at Glasgow Sheriff and JP Court for offences including assault, drug possession, drink driving and having no vehicle insurance.

In Edinburgh, a Gorebridge man who owed £1350 after being fined for an assault to injury and being ordered to pay £500 in compensation reacted quickly after his account was blocked. Despite having ignored warning letters and attempts to arrange payment for a year, he settled the full amount within days after the arrestment order was issued.

In all cases, the offenders had opportunities to make payment of their fines at a reasonable and affordable instalment rate – but did not pay up. All defaulters are issued warnings before action is taken. Those in genuine financial difficulty can engage with enforcement officers to discuss payment terms.

Most fines can be paid round the clock on our secure website or using our automated telephone payment system by phoning 0300 790 0003. Only fines which involve the endorsement of a driving record cannot be paid electronically at the moment.

For those penalties that cannot be paid using the online or telephone payment systems, customers can post payments to Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Central Processing Unit, PO Box 23, Glasgow, G59 9DA or take it in person to any Scottish court fines office.

Notes to Editors

•          Fine defaulters are not named for data protection reasons.

•         A copy of the most recent SCTS Quarterly Fines Report is available at:

•         Many fines are paid by instalments over the course of two or more years which will affect collection rate figures.

•         Most of the money collected through fines payment is sent to the UK Treasury under devolution arrangements set up within the Scotland Act 1998.

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