Bailiffs visit more than 200,000 Dartford Crossing motorists
Bailiffs were sent to visit more than 200,000 motorists who failed to pay bridge tolls last year
New figures from Highways England revealed that 200,610 drivers who did not pay the Dart Charge, for the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex, were visited by debt collectors.
The automated toll was introduced in November 2014 in an effort to ease congestion and help traffic at one of the countries busiest roads.
In 2016 alone, there were 99 million chargeable journeys made at the Dartford Crossing – but not all of them paid their way.
Last year was the first year Highways England’s contract with debt recovery companies were fully operational.
The government-owned company said one warrant was issued for each unpaid charge notice – a customer can be given two PCNs, meaning two warrants would have been issued.
The figures mean almost one in every 500 journeys could have a warrant executed for payment.
A spokesman for Highways England said the money collected from charging schemes at the Crossing is spent on transport.
“Dart Charge has removed a significant source of congestion at the Dartford Crossing, and the vast majority of drivers are paying their Dart Charge on time.
We have to be clear that people using the Dartford Crossing need to pay their Dart Charge.
But we work hard to help people avoid a penalty wherever possible.
Court-appointed enforcement agents are only ever used as a last resort to chase up non-payment, and only when each case has been authorised by the courts.”
Highways England have made more than £53million from fines since the toll booths were removed in November 2014.
The figure is almost a third of the crossing’s £161m annual income, which rose by £62m on the previous year.
The ‘Dart Charge’ is currently £2.50 for cars and £3 or £6 for buses, vans and lorries and motorists can pay by phone, app, online, postal or Payzone services.