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What Are The Consequences Of Ignoring Fines?

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AndiFlatland | 05:25 Fri 08th Aug 2014 | Law
34 Answers
I've always been a law-abiding citizen, and I've only had the most minor brushes with the police throughout my 65 years.
But within the space of a few months, I have been served with 2 fines. On the first occasion, I went and sat on a concrete block in the car park out the back of my local supermarket, and pulled a couple of stale bread rolls out of my bag, to feed the pigeons, which gather in large numbers there. There was a guy with a small dog standing behind me a few feet away, watching what I was doing. I had thrown no more than a couple of lumps of bread to the pigeons, when 2 men in council uniforms came striding out of the entrance to the shop and made directly for me. They told me that it was an offence to feed the pigeons, and that if I didn't stop, they would fine me. I threw the last piece of bread in my hand to the pigeons, and put the pack back in my bag. I asked how much the fine was, and I was told £55. At hearing that, I laughed, and said how ridiculous that was - £55, just for feeding pigeons. This quickly turned into an argument, and while this was going on, the guy with the dog had moved round to watch from the front. Although I was no longer throwing the bread, one of the men told me that if I carried on arguing with them, he would definitely serve the fine notice. At that point, I noticed the guy with the dog watching very closely, and I said to the 2 council guys, 'I'll bet it was him who alerted you 2, the speed with which you came bursting out of the shop when I'd only just started throwing the bread' - and one of them then said 'Right, I AM going to fine you now'. I said 'What for? I've stopped feeding the pigeons as you asked. What's the offence now?', and he said that the offence had been committed, and that they were within their rights to serve the fine regardless.
I was absolutely gobsmacked, and had no option but to give them my full details. I told them that they would wait a very long time for that fine to be paid, as I'm a pensioner, with only a state pension coming in, and I can't just chuck away £55 for nothing.
A few months later, I came out of a shop which is almost next to the road junction of which the road I live on is one of the four roads that meet. It is a very busy junction, with an 'X' crossing, where all the lights are red, and pedestrians can cross in any direction. The traffic lights are green for a ludicrous length of time, and often, when I get on my bike, if the road is clear, I carefully ride over to the opposite corner, up on to that corner a bit, and cut across into my road.
On this particular day, I was in a hurry, and needed to get home within 5 minutes. As I took off at a bit of a clip from the lights, a police car suddenly appeared from nowhere, and as it screeched to a halt level with me, one of the officers told me to stop. I did as I was told, and for a few moments, I wondered what the problem was. I was very polite and cooperative, when they asked me if I knew why they had stopped me. At first, I said I had no idea - until it dawned on me that they must have observed me make the most minor traffic violation. I then said, 'Oh I think I know - you saw me cut across that couple of metres of the corner of the pavement by the lights. OK, I do apologise, I'm very sorry, and I accept the warning'. To my utter astonishment, the officer said 'This is not a warning - you're going to get a fine'. No matter what I said, they were not going to be deflected from serving the fine, which they told me was £50.
The thing I want to know is, I am absolutely outraged by both of these fines, and I'm intending to ignore them, and refuse to respond to all correspondence about them. The pigeons one has already brought a summons to court, which went straight in the bin. If they can't get any response from me - my doorbell is always disconnected - what more can they do? I knew a guy who was continually getting parking tickets, and somehow he seemed to get away with ignoring them for years.

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The consequence of ignoring fines is bigger fines or jail. Throwing a summons in the bin was just plain daft - that was your opportunity to state your case against the fine.

Have you had a summons yet for the cycling thing? There will be something on the Fixed Penalty notice that tells you how to contest it. If you don't, it'#ll double, then double again.

Get your head out of the sand and deal with things. It won't go away.
Hi. You must pay the Police fine, you broke the law and must pay. However, I would question the Pigeon feeding fine. Was the correspondence an actual Summons or a threat from a debt collection agency? They can look very official but mean nothing. If you received a Summons (a real one) a while back and ignored it you would have heard from the Courts by now. the Bailiffs cannot just be sent around on a whim, they need a court order and you would be told in advance and iven a chance to make things right. Something just sounds fishy about the whole incident and I would contact the Council in question, ask to speak to someone about there policy on feeding pigeons and if you have been given a real fine then offer to start paying it even if its a pound a week. If they contract out to a collections firm then ignore it -they will give up eventually as they rely on scaring people into paying before it ever gets to court.
The logical conclusion of avoiding the payment of fines is doing some 'Bird' in the Scrubs with a big hairy Cellmate - your choice!
mick why do you have to say that and potentially frighten the OP? He is never going to end up in jail not paying a poxy £50 quid fine. I don't know which era you live in but you have to do a lot of crime these days before you end up in jail.
Retrochic, unfortunately Mick is correct! it. the refusal to pay a fine will end you up behind bars, been there done it. it is a last resort but they will do it.

So how do you think they deal with a refusal to pay a fine? fine you?
ratter you do what the seasoned fine-dodgers do, plead poverty and offer to pay tuppence a week. Once you are actually paying the fine you can't be imprisoned unless you stop paying the tuppence a week.
These days I dont need to pay fines thankfully, however I would be surprised if they would accept such small payment as your repayments are worked out based on your incoming and outgoing expenditure, they wont be taken for fools.
the OP is retired so has a better chance of pleading poverty perhaps? Not a fine, but we had a court order in our favour for someone who damaged one of our rental properties and they managed to plead poverty and pay us back £5 per week despite running 2 cars, living in a luxury barn conversion and a child at private school .
I'm just saying it's the 'logical conclusion' - the fines will be ratchetted up gradually and it will take a long time - but if you refuse to pay the fines you'll get the bailiffs in and eventually if you persist in being stubborn you will end up behind bars!

It's supposed to frighten the original OP - he did wrong, minor offences admittedly but still wrong - he may be able to contest the feeding the pigeons offence but it must be against some local by-law and therefore an offence.
A pedantic point to start with:
You weren't issued with fines. You were issued with fixed penalty notices. If you pay up you don't get a criminal record and the matter is closed. If you fail to pay up you'll be prosecuted, resulting in you having to pay what is usually (but not always) a significantly higher amount, probably plus court costs and a 'victim surcharge'. (Yes, I know that your offences didn't have 'victims' but nearly everyone who is convicted by a court still has to pay that surcharge).

If you fail to answer a summons to attend court, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest and have you brought before the court, and you risk imprisonment for contempt of court.

If you fail to pay a fine issued by the court you can be sent to prison and, upon your release, you'd still have to pay the fine. In practice though, unpaid fines are usually treated in a way similar to civil debts which have not been paid in defiance of a court order. That means that bailiffs can seize your goods, up to a value that covers not only the fine but also their fee for attending your property and their fee for sending the goods to auction.
Just to add a little to Buenchico's excellent answer (and to make a minor correction):

If the fixed penalties remain unpaid and the matter is escalated to the Magistrates' Court (and it seems one of them already has) you enter an altogether different ball game. As Buenchico says, if you fail to answer a summons a warrant will be issued. In the first instance this will be "backed with bail". This means the police will take you to the nick and bail you to attend the court. You will then be subject to the Bail Act and if you do not answer your bail a warrant "without bail" will be issued and you will be arrested and held in custody until the court next sits (so hope you are not arrested after the Saturday morning court has ended or you'll be in until Monday).

When you do eventually appear in court you face a criminal conviction. You can plead not guilty (and so face a trial) or you can plead guilty. If you are convicted your finances will be examined and the court will make a payment order. This will be at least £5 per week even if you have limited means (this is the minimum a court will order). So talk of offering tuppence a week is fatuous.

If you fail to pay as directed bailiffs will be instructed by the court. If they fail to collect you will be brought back to court. If it is determined you have demonstrated "culpable neglect" (i.e. you did not prioritise your finances properly so as to pay the fines) or "wilful refusal to pay" (self explanatory) the payment order will be reinforced by a suspended prison sentence, the length of which depends on the amount you owe (which will have gone up for the reasons explained by Buenchico). If you continue to fail to pay that sentence will almost certainly be actived.

However, if you are eventually committed to prison the fine will be deemed paid by your time in custody. (That is why the length of the custodial sentence is tailored to the amount you owe. Effectively you "pay" your fine by serving custody). An exception to this principle is where Council Tax is concerned. If you are imprisoned for Council Tax non-payment the debt remains payable upon your release.

All in all, best to pay up.
^^^ see, told you so!
I've had three parking tickets issued by private companies that I've ignored (one was in a car park adjacent to a hospital with little indication you had to pay), another when I forgot to put my mothers disabled card in the front window, and I totally ignored the letters, fake 'Summons' and threats that I would have to pay up to £1000 -that was over three years ago and I've heard nothing more. They only send out threats and hope a small percentage will pay as its too costly for these firms to take anyone to court. However....police penalties, council penalties I would pay straight away . I also was one of the many who refused to give out personal info on the Census ans was threatened with court proceedings -nothing ever happened. I still think the OP should make sure that the pigeon feeding fixed penalty is real and comes from the Council not a private Firm.
Appeal the fines and state there is no way you can pay any more than a few bob a month. Provide your incoming and outgoing money details and bend it slightly so it looks as if all you can spare is this. Ask the CAB to help (citizens advice) and write to the judge too as he/she holds the power.

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