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Police Issued Penalty Notices Northern Ireland – Criminal Law Update

From 6 June 2012, police officers have the power to issue penalty notices of £45 or £85, including a £5 offender levy, for a limited range of offences to offenders aged 18 or over.

For what offences can a penalty notice be issued?

£40 offences (plus a £5 offender levy)

  • Indecent behaviour (only for urination in the street)

  • Drunk in a public place

£80 offences (plus a £5 offender levy)

  • Disorderly behaviour

  • Behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace

  • Obstructing police

  • Criminal damage (up to a value of £200)

  • Theft (shoplifting up to a value of £100, where the stolen goods have been recovered and are still in a good enough condition to be resold, or the retailer has been compensated)

If you accept a penalty notice you must either pay the full amount or request that the matter be heard by a court within 28 days of the date of issue. The penalty notice explains how to pay the penalty or request a court hearing.

If you accept a penalty notice but do not pay the penalty or request a court hearing within the 28 day period, the penalty will be increased by 50 per cent to £60 or £120. Your local court will also become involved at this stage, to enforce the penalty notice as if it were a fine imposed by that court. The £5 offender levy will not increase, but you will still have to pay it.

You may decline the offer of a penalty in which case the police officer involved will consider another course of action, which may result in prosecution.

Payment of a penalty notice does not require an admission of guilt and will not result in a criminal record.

However, a record that you have been issued with a penalty notice will be kept, and that information may be used to decide whether or not you will be eligible to receive another penalty notice in the future. The penalty notice provides an opportunity for first time and non-habitual offenders to avoid court and a possible criminal record. It will not be available to someone who repeatedly offends. Additionally, these penalty notices are recorded on the police computer system and may be disclosed as part of an enhanced criminal records bureau check.

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