Fines: Non-Payment

Justice written question – answered on 29th March 2010.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people served a custodial sentence for the non-payment of fines in England and Wales in each financial year since April 2005.

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (also in Government Equalities Office), Minister of State (Government Equalities Office) (also in the Ministry of Justice)

Figures showing the numbers of prisoners received into all prison establishments in England and Wales in the financial years 2005-06 to 2007-08 (the latest year for which data are available) are shown in the following table:

Fine defaulter first receptions into prison establishments in England and Wales 2005-08
Financial year Number
2005-06 1,994
2006-07 1,605
2007-08 1,433

First receptions are an estimate of the number of prisoners entering the Criminal Justice System by individual offence in a given time period.

Offenders may be committed to prison for fine default: their sentence remains a fine.

Imprisonment for non-payment of a financial penalty remains the ultimate sanction for the most wilful defaulters. However, only after the court 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. The court must also be convinced that the person has either "wilfully refused" to pay or have been "culpably neglectful" which means the person has had the means to pay but have simply neglected to pay.

These figures are a sub-set of first reception data in the first line of table 6.1 in Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2008, adjusted from a calendar year to a financial year basis. They have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

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