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Level of unpaid fines and reparations coming down

Level of unpaid fines and reparations coming down

Substantial reductions in the total amounts of unpaid fines and reparations proves the government is working proactively to ensure that victims of crimes are receiving monies owed, Courts Minister Rick Barker said today.

“Initiatives by this Government have led to a reduction in the level of overdue unpaid fines from $334 million at 30 June 2002 to $306 million at 30 June 2003, a drop of $28 million. This is the first year that the total of overdue unpaid fines has gone down and the best year ever in terms of the amount collected.

“During that period, the value of unpaid reparations also reduced from $30.655 million at 30 June 2002 to $21.974 million at 30 June 2003, a drop of $8.681 million or 28.32 percent. This reflects the commitment this Government is making to help the victims of crime.”

Mr Barker said the total unpaid fines overdue, as reported in the Department for Courts 2002 Annual Report ($288 million), differed from the year-end figure because it was in fact a sub-set of total unpaid fines.

“This figure was wrong because of statistical classification errors arising out of the conversion of fines data from the Wanganui computer to the new Courts Department COLLECT system.

“The new system provides much more robust figures and when the error was detected, the figure for total overdue fines for the 2001/2002 year was corrected to $334 million.”

Mr Barker said the Courts Department was enhancing its collections capabilities through the upgrading and expansion of its Wellington Collections Contact Centre and establishment of another centre in Auckland.

“The expansion is expected to enable the Department to collect an additional $90 million over four years, $22 million of which will go to third parties, including reparation payments for victims of crimes. A free phone 0800 number will also be introduced, allowing victims to easily access information about their reparations.”

Mr Barker said the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, currently before the Law and Order Select Committee, sent a clear message that fines and reparations must be paid.

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