Lothians drivers face clamps over unpaid fines

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CAR owners who fail to pay court fines are having their vehicles clamped as part of a new crackdown on defaulters in the Lothians.

Six vehicles have been clamped in the last three weeks, which has enabled the Scottish Court Service (SCS) to collect £1400 in unpaid penalties.

The owners were targeted after refusing to pay up for offences including driving without insurance, not displaying road tax and parking fines.

Once a car is clamped, the owner has 24 hours to make payment in order to reclaim their vehicle before it is uplifted and removed into storage. Daily charges are then levied and the court can ultimately sell or scrap vehicles if the owners continue to refuse to make good their fines.

The tough approach was launched after new figures revealed that nearly a quarter of fines issued at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in the last year are already in arrears.

Five per cent of those given a fine in 2009-10 have not paid a penny towards the punishment.

The owners whose cars were clamped since the blitz was launched on May 11 have paid between £113 and £588 to reclaim vehicles including a Ford Transit van, a Vauxhall Zafira and a Peugeot 207.

The cars were clamped in Livingston, Newbridge and central Edinburgh.

The SCS has a range of enforcement powers to collect outstanding fines including arresting wages, deducting benefits and freezing bank accounts. Fine enforcement officers are also set to be granted access to a wealth of information held by the Department for Work and Pensions to help pursue defaulters.

Cliff Binning, SCS chief operations officer, said: “Having access to this information will help us speed up the process of fine collection and make it more efficient. We take decisive enforcement action against anyone who fails to pay a fine and that includes clamping, seizing and even selling or scrapping your car.”

The SCS said that fine collection rates “remain strong”, with old fines being collected in increasing volumes.