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Sacramento says penalty notices for minor offences will ‘free valuable police and court time’

Proposed legislation for on-the-spot fines for low-level nuisance offences free up police and court time and allow them to focus on more serious matters, Justice Minister Samantha Sacramento said.

The Bill, first reported yesterday by Chronicle, would allow for law enforcement officers to issue penalty notices for a range of low-level offences, thus avoiding the need for court proceedings unless the alleged offender chooses to be tried.

If passed by Parliament, it will significantly reduce police time which needs to be invested in preparation in cases for court and provide means officers to tackle minor offences which may not previously have warranted the resources required for a court process.

There will be two separate tariffs of £50 and £100 depending on the offence.

The law is based on the long-standing Fixed Penalty Notice scheme for road traffic offences.

Notices are issued to individuals and there is no requirement for an admission of guilt nor is a conviction recorded against the subject.

There is also a mechanism in place for the person who receives a notice to request to be tried rather than pay the penalty.

“I am pleased to publish a Bill today that will provide the Royal Gibraltar Police with another tool that will allow them to continue their policing work of more effectively managing their resources,” she said.

“We are following the UK’s lead in allowing for a speedy and effective alternative option for dealing with a limited number of low-level nuisance offending in circumstances that may not warrant attendance at court, whilst still providing all the relevant safeguards to the victims of crime and offenders.”

“This will free up police and court resources, that are being used on relatively minor offences which would most likely result in a low level fine, and allow them to be focused on more serious matters.”

The list of offences that would be covered by the penalty notices is long and includes different types of disorderly conduct and breaches of the peace; common assault, theft and destruction of property; possession of cannabis and being drunk in a public place; several alcohol-related offences including buying alcohol for juveniles; noise-related offences; and throwing fireworks on a public thoroughfare, among other offences.
The proposed legislation states that in cases where offences are committed by juveniles under the age of 18, their parents or guardians will be notified and made liable to pay the penalty.

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