On occasions defaulters are sent to prison, but the custodial sentence is suspended if they make a reasonable offer to pay a small sum each and every week.
The Community Charge finished nearly two years ago, and it is reasonable to expect people to make some effort to clear their debt. In some cases defaulters have ignored all representations by enforcement officers to come to some form of arrangement. If they were in difficulties through illness, unemployment or break-up of marriage, there are benefits available to ease the burden.
We magistrates do not make the laws; we merely administer them fairly and with compassion. However, if defaulters wilfully refuse to pay and make no offer to settle the outstanding arrears, then we have no option but to imprison.
Yours faithfully, DAVID WILDING Bridge, Kent 24 JanuaryReuse content