STREET yobs are about to be hit where it hurts in a pioneering new police scheme.
Offenders bringing mayhem to Hyndburn's streets with their loutish behaviour stand to be issued with on-the-spot fines of up to £80 by police officers for a range of offences.
The move has been widely hailed for its power to immediately bring offenders to book, free police officers from bureaucratic paperwork and ease the clogging-up of the court system.
Inspector Julian Platt, Accrington's police chief, said of the Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND): "This will mean officers spending less time dealing with paperwork, allowing them more time on the streets."
"I welcome these additional tools to address a wide range of incidents and stress that this method of dealing with disorder is additional to our powers, not a replacement for them."
Councillor Janet Sto-rey, Cabinet member for community safety, said: "I think this is excellent. The faster the police can implement their powers the better it is."
Those issued with fines can elect to go to court, risking a criminal conviction, but police hope PNDs will be accepted and paid immediately. The fines have to be paid within 21 days; after that they double and after 28 days the offender is pursued by the courts.
Superintendent Warren Turner, eastern division operations manager, said since the introduction of the scheme in February - when offenders could only be fined while in custody - 134 tickets had been issued and town centre tranquillity had been improved across East Lancashire.
He said: "Almost 300 hours of officer time has been saved which means officers have spent that amount of time patrolling the streets rather than being in the station preparing court files."
PNDs cannot be issued to under-16s and, if accepted, are not an admission of guilt. They will come into force later in the year and all money will go the Government.
- An £80 penalty will be introduced for: wasting police time; causing annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety through persistent telephone use; making hoax calls to fire stations; throwing fireworks; and causing harassment, alarm or distress.
- A £40 fine will hit offenders who drink in public alcohol-free zones; are drunk and disorderly; trespass on a railway; throw stones at trains; buy alcohol for under 18s; and are drunk and incapable.