'Drunk in public' spot fines from 6 June

Published Wednesday, 30 May 2012
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An on-the-spot fine of £40 for being drunk in public will come into force next week, with police insisting the new powers will benefit both offenders and the justice system.

'Drunk in public' spot fines from 6 June
The fines cover first time offenders on low-level offences. (© UTV)


Do you agree with the introduction of new on-the-spot fines for disorderly behaviour or being drunk in public?
Do you agree with the introduction of new on-the-spot fines for disorderly behaviour or being drunk in public?

It's estimated 1,500 fewer people will have to go to court each year in Northern Ireland as a result of the on-the-spot penalties, speeding up the process of dealing with minor offences.

Police say fewer people will also be faced with a criminal record over something they've done while under the influence of alcohol.

"Many people do silly things for many reasons, whether it's alcohol or something else," PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton told UTV.

"It's important that we don't criminalise people unnecessarily."

Previously, offenders could find themselves arrested and appearing in court - then being handed a £100 fine and having a criminal record which can impact on education, employment and travel opportunities.

This is not an attempt at additional employment - this is to give us more flexibility in how we do enforcement.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton

"Proportionality is the key word," ACC Hamilton said, adding that issuing fixed penalty notices would cut down on bureaucracy and allow officers to spend more time on the beat instead of behind desks.

Justice Minister David Ford launched the scheme in Belfast city centre on Wednesday morning, ahead of the changes coming into effect on 6 June.

"Fixed penalty notices are about delivering speedy, effective and proportionate justice responses to a range of low-level offences," Mr Ford said.

"Currently two-thirds of all crimes prosecuted through our courts result in the offender receiving a fine of £100 or less - many of these cases involve individuals with little or no previous offending history, who have committed relatively minor offences which they admit in court."

The fine of £40 applies to indecent behaviour, urinating in the street and public drunkenness, while £80 fines could be handed out for offences including disorderly behaviour, breach of the peace and obstructing police.

Records of the fines will be kept to ensure police are aware of repeat offenders, but they won't go towards an individual's criminal record.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Sam McMorran in Belfast wrote (952 days ago):
I agree with this measure in principle, but the level of fines are too small. The culprits are spending a lot more than the fine to get into this condition. Plus, the shoplifters will recupe the cost of the fine with their next visit to the shops!!
heather in belfast wrote (956 days ago):
ref nic ,,, more than likely as probably the muppets in disney land at stormont thought this one up lol
Vic in Belfast wrote (969 days ago):
It will be interesting to see how many of the drunkin hangers-on following the 12th parades will be fined. the is already sings up on lamp post prohibiting on street drinking but do you ever see any police action on this ....no
john in bangor wrote (970 days ago):
the finer workings will probably be that tickets will only be given to those that have ID to prove who they are, no ID you'll still get lifted, as like all other offences. if people can't be bothered to go and hide and pee out of public view they deserve the ticket (not court!) the drunkeness level will be for the bad ones,ie the problems they are causing are due to them be impaired quite a bit, these have been out on the mainland uk for quite some time, no big deal just because they are here now. i would see it that you be deemed to be causing a problem or nuisance, not just wobbling home causing no issues.
paul in Belfast wrote (971 days ago):
There is zero chance of the police coming up the falls road and nabbing some of the toerags who wander shouting drunken abuse at everyone in the Dunville park. Drunks ruin the park for everyone but you'll not find a policeman anywhere near to get them out. Fines?? Ha...no chance will this happen here.
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