I TRUST readers will not be misled by Nick Cohen's tendentious and inaccurate article about the treatment of fine defaulters ("Why more women are going to prison," 26 February). Fine defaulters are not imprisoned because they cannot pay their fines but because, often after many attempts to get them to pay, they will not. Magistrates are forbidden by law to imprison fine defaulters unless either they refuse to pay or, having had the means to pay and other methods of enforcing payment (eg by a bailiff's warrant) having failed, they do not pay. According to Mr Cohen, magistrates are disobeying the law on a large scale. My experience over many years indicates that this is not the case.
Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate