Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Courts takes millionth step in collections

14 August 2003 Media Statement
Courts takes millionth step in collections

The government was working harder than ever to ensure outstanding fines and reparations were being paid to the victims of crime, Courts Minister Rick Barker said today.

“This morning we celebrated the one millionth phone call handled by the Courts Department’s Collections Unit Contact Centre since the Wellington facility reopened in October last year.

“That’s one million steps toward concluding the court process, or an impressive 91,000 calls per month in an effort to resolve fines.”

Mr Barker said the state-of-the-art Contact Centre had proved a cost-effective way of collecting fines – particularly rapidly rising infringements. It collected $54 million in fines in 2002-03 – around a third of Collections’ total revenue.

The Contact Centre’s relocation and expansion was one of a raft of enforcement tools and new initiatives to combat rising fine imposition.

Infringement fines now form the bulk of Collections’ work. Infringements accounted for 48 percent of new fines between 1992-2003, compared to an estimated 78 percent now.

Infringements, or ‘instant tickets’ are issued by more than 130 prosecuting agencies, which generally give offender 56 days to pay before filing with Courts for enforcement.

Mr Barker said infringements tended to be harder to collect than Court-imposed fines because offenders ‘willing’ to pay have already done so direct.

“Courts also has less control over the information needed to locate offenders because it is supplied initially by the prosecuting agency.”

Despite that, about 85 percent of fines filed with Courts for collection are resolved within four years.

It was estimated that 96 percent of all fines imposed were resolved by the prosecuting agency prior to filing or by Courts, meaning only about four percent remained unresolved. This number included people who had left the country, died, or had not yet been located.

Mr Barker said those who owed fines or reparations but failed to address them should take the earliest opportunity to do so, or risk embarrassment.

“We are determined to get people to pay their fines earlier, and in particular, to resolve the four percent of long-term fines defaulters,” said Mr Barker.

A hard-hitting enforcement strategy started this week with radio and newspaper advertising warning major fine defaulters in Auckland and Northland to resolve their fines or risk having their names, age and address published in newspapers from August 30.

The campaign follows a recent trial in the South Island that led to a positive response from about 40 percent of the 550 fines defaulters publicised.

“Information provided by others about the whereabouts of some defaulters reinforced my belief the public has a low tolerance of fines and reparation defaulters.”

Mr Barker said an increase in the total amount of fines collected in the 2002-03 financial year showed such initiatives were working.

“This is the first year the total of overdue unpaid fines has gone down. It is also the best year ever in terms of the amount collected in fines, up $14 million from the previous best to $150 million.”

The value of overdue fines also decreased eight percent in the 2002-03 financial year while the total value of overdue unpaid fines at 30 June 2003 decreased to $306 million, compared with $334 million the previous year.

The amount of total reparation collected in the 2002-03 financial year was also significant – up 30 percent ($2.856m) from $9.423 million in 2001-02 to $12.279 million.

Mr Barker said the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, currently before Parliament, reinforced the message that fines and reparation must be paid.

The Bill will enable enforcement of fines at international airports by comparing Courts’ fines database with the Immigration database of people coming in and out of the country. It is expected to collect $1.5 million annually in fines, including reparation that would not otherwise be collected.

“Fines collection is a complex process, with more than two million individual fines being handled by Courts at any one time. However, Courts has a wide range of enforcement options available and the bottom line is, fines won’t go away.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election