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I have been Civilian Enforcement Officer for HMCTS for over 20 years, in the new year all warrants issued for the non payment of fines are going to go on PNC.  This has been the case in the London Metropolitan area for many years but is being rolled out across the country to coincide with my role being privatised.

It is currently policy in my area that should the need arise for me to arrest someone on warrant for the non payment of a fine and the court has closed for the day then I have to call the custody suite to see if they will take the defendant. This has always been a pointless exercise because the answer is inevitably no. The custody sergeant is not going to keep someone overnight for not paying £50!

The result being I give the defendant a date to surrender to the court, very few fail to turn up.

My question is if a police officer decides to check someone, for any reason whatsoever, and they come up clean apart from a warrant on PNC for the non payment of a fine is the police officer obliged to arrest them or do they have discretionary powers, in this case, not to.

If it was during a period when the court was open then they would be taken directly to the holding cells at the court, if it was out of office hours then they would have to be held until the next available court.  If it was a small fine then the costs to keep someone overnight in police custody would surely be prohibitive.

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