I am of the view that there is scope for greater use of community service orders in relatively minor cases. To that end, a proposal to draft a Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Bill was approved by Government on 9 November. An amendment to existing legislation will require courts to consider imposing a community service order in any case where they had envisaged imposing a prison sentence of 6 months or less.
Also, when section 18 of the Fines Act 2010 has been commenced it will be possible for the court to impose a community service order on a person who defaults on payment of a fine, rather than sending the defaulter to prison. The Act does not include provision for attachment of earnings or social welfare payments. However, when section 15 of the Act is commenced it will allow a person on whom a fine has been imposed to make an application to the court to pay by instalments. It will be possible for the court to direct that the fine be paid over a period of 12 months, and exceptionally, over a two year period.
I would like to see how these arrangements operate in practice before considering other measures for the recovery of fines.