THOUSANDS of people who dodge court fines were given a sharp warning today.
The Government has launched a tough new campaign to collect cash owed to courts.
Across Kirklees, that means more than 4,000 people will be targeted.
From today, magistrates' courts, police and Department of Work and Pensions staff will join forces across the UK for the Government drive, Operation Payback.
They will hold `blitz days' in specific areas once a month.
Court officials and police will visit the homes of people with unpaid court penalties, speeding fines and compensation for victims.
If the person cannot pay what is owed, they face strict new penalties.
At the end of 2003, there was £354m in unpaid fines in England and Wales.
In Huddersfield and Dewsbury alone, there are 4,119 warrants out for unpaid fines. Last March, 45% of fines imposed were not paid on time.
But the Government hopes Operation Payback will lead to 75% of the penalties being collected by next month.
To achieve this, the Government is threatening fine defaulters with tough punishment.
If a person has persistently not paid fines he or she will be arrested and brought to court, where a range of penalties can be imposed.
These include having cash deducted from wages or benefits, having their cars clamped or having fines increased by up to 50%.
Offenders could also have their details passed on to credit reference agencies, making it almost impossible to get personal loans, credit cards, mortgages or bank accounts.
Persistent non-payers who cannot make a payment could be made to do unpaid community work instead.
Some serial offenders could even go to jail.
If the person has a genuine reason for not paying, they will be summoned to attend court, so arrangements can be made.
Warning posters went up today in magistrates' courts and police stations today. They will be followed by a £230,000 advertising campaign in newspapers and on local radio.
A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Magistrates' Court Service said the date and location of the blitz days would be kept secret - but there would be one in Kirklees next month.
She said the service had been instrumental in the new scheme being set up. It held a pioneering `blitz day' in Bradford last year.
Immediately afterwards the number of people paying their fines doubled - with £10,617 being paid in just one day.
She added: "We took the idea to meetings. Because of the success it was decided there would be national blitzes."
The spokeswoman said the number of warrants currently issued reflected only a part of the large amount owed by fine dodgers.
She also said she would like people to contact the court to sort out their unpaid fines, before the new strict measures have to be used.
People can do this by calling the WYMCS enforcement office on 0113 3076600.