THE last chance saloon for Solihull’s fine dodgers, licence evaders and repeat offenders came to a supermarket car park in Chelmsley Wood last week.
Operation Crackdown, a joint initiative between police and HM Courts and Tribunals Services (HMCTS), which ran last Tuesday to Friday, aimed to show a zero tolerance approach to people across the borough who owed hundreds of thousands of pounds in overdue court fines or compensation, TV licence payments or council tax bills.
Around 300 offenders were visited by Solihull police, more than £33,000 was recovered over the four days and 83 people were arrested.
Sergeant Helen Carver led the operation, which saw mobile prison cells set up at Asda and a court at Solihull magistrates set aside for the job.
“People had the option of paying the fine there and then or being arrested and taken to court where magistrates could enforce a repayment plan, impose a suspended jail sentence, or send offenders directly to prison,” she said.
“We had the power to forcibly enter premises if there was reason to believe our target was inside and simply refusing to open the door.
“When we knock on the door this is the sixth or seventh time we have contacted them. This is the last chance saloon.”
The Solihull News joined two HMCTS officers, Charlie Sharp and Terry Olds and police Sergeant Gary Burnham as we visited addresses in Castle Vale.
At the first three premises the suspects weren’t home but at the fourth, a house on Chigwell Close, a 33-year-old mother of two was arrested, taken back in a van to ASDA and interviewed.
She owed £310 for not paying her TV licence in 2007.
Throughout the week police found four cannabis factories.
A 19-year-old man from West Bromwich, wanted for repeatedly breaching a community order and with £2,000 of fines outstanding, was arrested at Birmingham Airport awaiting a flight to Portugal.