Courts to issue harsher fines for speeding

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

Magistrates in Wigan will be able to hand out harsher fines to the borough’s speeding drivers under new guidelines set to be introduced this year.

Penalties for motorists clocking up speeds well above the limit could be 150 per cent of their weekly wage, up from 100 per cent.

The Sentencing Council said the move aims to ensure there is a “clear increase in penalty as the seriousness of offending increases”.

They are among a raft of new guidelines for courts with new sentences covering offences such as animal cruelty and TV licence payment evasion.

The harsher punishments for the most serious speeding offences follows a consultation which found previous sentences “did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the speed limit increases”, the Sentencing Council said.

Cases included in the most serious fine increases include driving 41mph in 20mph areas, 51mph in 30 zones and 101mph on the motorway.

The new guidelines will come into force from April 24.

For licence fee evasion, magistrates will be allowed to enforce conditional discharges, instead of fines, meaning the offender will not be sentenced unless they re-offend.

Recent figures suggested Greater Manchester is among the worst areas in the country in terms of residents not paying their licence bills, with more than 11,000 court appearances in 2014, for example.

The new guidelines also include harsher sentences for animal cruelty with the use of technology, such as recording abuse, will be taken into account.

The most serious cases should result in jail sentences, the Council added.

Sentencing Council member and district judge Richard Williams said: “The magistrates’ courts deal with the vast majority of offenders in England and Wales, so it is essential that the guidelines they use are up to date and help ensure that sentences are applied consistently and effectively.

“We have listened to the views of magistrates, criminal justice professionals and others with an interest in particular offence types in developing these guidelines.”