FINE dodgers are facing arrest at Edinburgh’s airport and ferry terminals in a massive crime crackdown this weekend.
Hundreds of holidaymakers are set to head for the sun as the school year finishes in what is one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
But a blitz aimed at clawing back millions of pounds owed in unpaid penalties will see debtors collared as they arrive at check-ins.
Bosses at the Scottish Courts Service (SCS) have obtained arrest warrants for people with outstanding fines for convictions including assaults, thefts and driving offences.
Passenger lists will be run through police computers at airports as well as ferry terminals and bus and train stations. Unless the outstanding fines are paid on the spot, defaulters can be arrested and taken into custody.
A man has already been arrested at Edinburgh Airport for driving in an uninsured vehicle. The Livingston resident paid his £385 fine in full before being allowed to continue on his journey.
A senior police source said: “A lot of criminals live chaotic lives and might not even know that there are warrants out for their arrest so this gives them a nice little surprise as they set about heading off on holiday.
“It also acts as a deterrent as many people with fines to pay turn up at the station and pay their fines rather than face being stopped at the airport.”
And he added: “This is always a worthwhile exercise. You’d be surprised by the number of people who are caught each year.”
People fined in Scotland can also be arrested at travel points across the UK.
The SCS has a range of measures in place to enforce fines payment including arrests, clamping cars and deducting money directly from wages, savings or benefits.
All defaulters are issued warnings and given the chance to engage with enforcement officers before action is taken.
Cliff Binning, SCS chief operations officer, said jeopardising holiday plans for unpaid penalties “just isn’t worth it”. “It is well worth taking the time to pay your fine before heading off on your trip,” he said. “Most fines can be paid round the clock on our website.
“Anyone in genuine financial difficulty during the holiday season can contact a fines enforcement officer at their local court to receive advice and assistance on payment plans to get back on track.”
Superintendent Alan Crawford, head of Police Scotland’s Border Policing Command, warned those with an outstanding fine or warrant there was “every likelihood” they would be stopped.
He said: “I would urge anyone who is currently subject to an outstanding fine or warrant and preparing to embark on a trip to address the matter urgently to ensure that you are not inconvenienced and can fully enjoy your break.”