Drunks and yobs will have to pay fixed penalty fines

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The Independent Online

Spot fines of £80 and £40 are to be given to aggressive drunks, and people who throw fireworks, make hoax phone calls, or buy children alcohol.

Spot fines of £80 and £40 are to be given to aggressive drunks, and people who throw fireworks, make hoax phone calls, or buy children alcohol.

Officers in five forces are to be given powers later this year to hand out fixed penalty tickets for a range of anti-social offences and minor crimes.

The police are also considering including the possession of small amounts of cannabis as a possible future fixed penalty offence, although that will depend on the Government lowering the drug classification.

The initiative is based on Tony Blair's widely ridiculed suggestion of two years ago that police should be allowed to frogmarch drunks to cash machines to make them pay fines.

The scheme, which will be piloted in London, the West Midlands, Essex and North Wales and by British Transport Police, is aimed at freeing officers and giving punishment for offences that often go ignored. Police will give out the parking ticket-style punishments and offenders will be expected to pay either by post or at a local court. They will not hand the police money.

If an individual contests the fine he or she can go to court, but if they lose the case they will be fined a greater sum or face an alternative punishment such as a community sentence or jail.

The offences that will receive an £80 penalty include wasting police time, causing harassment or distress, being drunk and disorderly in a public place, and making false calls to the fire brigade or the police.

The £40 fine is for trespassing on a railway, buying alcohol for somebody under 18, throwing stones at trains, drinking in a public place that has banned alcohol, wilful obstruction of the highway, being drunk in the highway, and throwing fireworks.

The only force to introduce the pilot across its whole area will be the West Midlands Police. In London, the scheme is likely to be piloted in the borough of Croydon.

The Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve House, who will lead the London pilot, said: "We're looking at the lowest level of public order offence. We are talking about yobbish behaviour."