Commitment to Prison
The Council may apply to the Magistrates' Court for a warrant committing you to prison. The Council will only take this step when other efforts have failed and when they have tried unsuccessfully to levy distress.
Before issuing a warrant of commitment the court must hold a 'means enquiry' with you present. You will be sent a Summons to appear. If you fail to answer to the Summons the Council will, in most cases, request that a warrant for arrest be granted. Depending on the circumstances this will be with or without bail. When you attend a 'means enquiry' the Council will be able to question you in order to establish your income and expenditure both at the time the debt was raised and at the present.
A warrant of commitment will only be issued if the court is satisfied that the failure to pay is the result of wilful refusal or culpable neglect.
The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.
The court may decide to fix a term of imprisonment and postpone the warrant on certain conditions, normally relating to the payment of the debt over a period of time. The court also has the power to remit all or part of the debt where no warrant is issued or term of imprisonment fixed.