POLICE continued their crackdown this week on people who dodge fines, fail to buy their car tax and avoid buying a television licence with a series of early morning raids. Households across Huntingdon were woken by officers at 7am on Monday with journalis
POLICE continued their crackdown this week on people who dodge fines, fail to buy their car tax and avoid buying a television licence with a series of early morning raids.
Households across Huntingdon were woken by officers at 7am on Monday with journalists and bailiffs in tow as part of a week-long operation.
The 50 targets were people whose crimes were small - including fare dodging and vehicle related fines - but between them they owed £16,000 in unpaid fines.
"These people would have had a letter sent to them and a court summons - our visit should not come as a surprise to them," said Mark Cowley, from Marstons court bailiffs. "They've had plenty of opportunities to pay their fines. They cannot avoid justice, because we will come looking for them."
One resident in Stonely Close had failed to pay her fines. She was woken up at 8am when police came knocking at her door.
"This woman didn't buy a television licence and so she was fined and by not paying her fine she faced public humiliation by being picked up by police and taken to court," added Mr Cowley.
The next stops were properties in Hartford Road and Rodney Road where the fine dodgers were not in. Or at least they did not want to come to the door.
"We will keep coming back," said Mr Cowley. "We will not go away. We do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If they do not answer the door then we come back later. If they still fail to answer the door then we come back tomorrow. We target those who think they have got away with it."
Half an hour after visiting Hartford Road and Rodney Road, the police received a phone call saying that two men on their list wanted to talk to officers.
In Hartford Road a man had accumulated fines totalling £423 after failing to pay a train fare. In Rodney Road a man had outstanding vehicle fines of £557.
In just six hours the Marston team had visited 11 addresses resulting in six people being taken to court - they had fines worth £1,450 between them. A further six people paid their outstanding fines on the spot, adding up to £514. By the end of the day £4,000 had been collected.
But the wake up calls was just one part of the operation. Motorists without a tax disc were also targets.
Police set up special cameras on Hartford Road to help identify cars without a valid tax disc. They also followed up information from members of the public pointing to people suspected of evading the tax.
In just a 30 minute time frame, the Hartford Road cameras had caught four motorists. They were quizzed by police in Riverside Car Park. Two of the cars were clamped and one had not had any tax since March and its MOT had run out in October.
Once clamped the driver can pay £200 to release the vehicle. If they do not want to pay on the spot then the car is taken to a compound and they have 14 days to pay or the car is crushed.
The week-long operation will also see police join forces with VOSA, Trading Standards and firefighters to combat vehicle crime and rogue traders.
Inspector Sue Taylor, sector inspector for Huntingdon, said: "We have teamed up with the DVLA and VOSA as a direct result of what residents told us at our last panel meeting - that they want all kinds of vehicle crimes to be tackled.
"This is a positive week of action by all partners agencies. Those who do not break the law have nothing to fear.