Such a system would be fairer and could be applied throughout the UK. It would also deter people from committing repeated or a series of minor (non-custodial) offences.
We are always hearing that there are too many people in prison and young offenders’ places. We also hear that whilst one person might receive a fine for a crime, someone else gets a custodial sentence for the same offence, whilst another person is also found guilty somewhere else in the country for the same or very similar crime but gets away with a telling off. I believe, the general public are frustrated by the inconsistency of the courts and the length of time the whole process takes to bring someone to court.
Many crimes such as speeding, going through a red light, and other traffic / road related offences can be dealt with by a fine being imposed but often this isn’t a deterrent as it’s always the same amount.
I was once caught speeding in a 30 mph zone. Instead of having points added to my licence, I attended a driver training day, which cost me £100. This was the first offence I had ever committed. However, I found that most of the other people there had already collected 6 or 9 points on their driving licence and often for repeated offences such as speeding. The course certainly improved my awareness of driving and I believe made me a better driver.
However, there are many “minor” offences, which on their own are very unlikely to result in someone being sent to prison, not only for bad driving but also shop-lifting, theft, vandalism, etc. If all of the minor offences were organised into groups and set out on a sliding scale of how serious they are, then a fiscal penalty (cash fine) could be more easily imposed by the Police, at the point of being stopped / caught / arrested. Furthermore, to act as an ongoing deterrent; the fine issued should double in value each time.
We could start with a minimum fine of £125 for the most minor offence such as dropping litter, £250 for the next level and so on, doubling the amount for each level. Then if someone commits a second offence at the same level or higher, the criminal database would automatically double their fine. This means that if a person goes about committing a series of minor offences, over a period of time (with a rolling ten year period used), they could end up paying £1000 for a third offence, then £2000 for a 4thand £4000 for their 5thminor offence.
At some point, a person who is caught speeding in their car, driving through a red light or using their mobile phone whilst driving, is going to realise that having to pay double each time due to their previous actions and fine, will eventually deter them from how they go about their day-to-day life.
I believe a fiscal penalty system would also free-up the Police and courts to deal with more serious offences, so that prison can be the place for any non-minor offence.