Fixed Penalty Payments

The other day I was “making good progress” and was stopped by a Suffolk Constabulary PC who gave me a fixed penalty for the offence. We won’t even go to the whole “speed kills” bollocks (even the PC said my driving was exemplary but over the limit).

I was pleased that they’ve moved with the times and allow you to make online payments … or so I thought.

The Payment Slip part of the Fixed Penalty Notice has a “Ticket Number” (as do the other two parts you’re given) and there’s a “Payment Methods” box which includes a 24/7 automated payment 0300 line and a link to http://penaltynotice.direct.gov.uk

So off I went. The first step was to fill in the “Notice Number” box, so I entered the eight digit ticket number there … and got an error message saying “Invalid format for notice number”. The website doesn’t give any guidance – clickable or otherwise – as to what a valid format would be for the notice number. I tried losing the leading two zeros to no avail. Nothing.

So I rang the payment line and was given the message to enter the sixteen digit notice number. What? What sixteen digit notice number?

Eventually I was connected to an operator who told me that the “Notice Number” is actually the combination of the following:

  • three digit “Force Code”
  • two digit “Notice Type”
  • single digit “Source Code”
  • eight digit “Ticket Number”
  • two digit “Penalty Code”

Well how could I have been so stupid as to not know this? It’s obvious, isn’t it? So obvious that nowhere on the Fixed Penalty Notice does it tell you what the “Notice Number” is, nor how to work out what it is. So obvious that the website they point you towards doesn’t tell you what it is. And so obvious that the automated telephone line doesn’t tell you either. Or is it the usual Government ineptitude?