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Central and Lower NI fines defaulters urged to pay

Central and Lower North Island fines defaulters urged to pay up

Fines defaulters in the central and lower North Island should pay up now, or risk having their names published in local newspapers, Courts Minister Rick Barker said today.

"Fines defaulters in Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu, Hawke's Bay, Wanganui and New Plymouth should take heed. If they fail to pay up, the Justice Ministry will ensure they face an embarrassing consequence."

The central and lower North Island phase of the campaign follows previous successful operations in the South Island, Auckland/Northland and Waikato/Bay of Plenty regions.

As with the other campaigns, Mr Barker said fines defaulters in the latest target regions would have ample time to pay up before their names were added to planned newspaper advertisements.

"Before any names are actually published, a three week campaign of radio and newspaper advertising takes place, urging fines defaulters to pay up. After that, they run the risk of having their names, age and last known address published in local newspapers."

The awareness campaign started this week and if offenders failed to take notice, Mr Barker said he would also welcome assistance from the public to locate recidivist fines defaulters.

"Many fines defaulters owe Court-ordered reparation, which we are keen to collect to pay their victims." Section 87A of the Summary Proceedings Act 1957 allows the Justice Ministry to publish the names of people who owe $500 or more in overdue fines, have made no contact with Courts for three months or longer and cannot be located.

Over the three regions of the country covered so far, the combined campaigns have resulted in positive action on around 24 percent of the 1764 fine defaulters identified.

In total, time-to-pay arrangements worth $750,000 have also been established and $17,710 has so far been collected.

The amount collected is expected to increase further as Justice Ministry Collections staff in the Waikato, where advertising finished only ten days ago, continue enforcement action on the basis of new information provided on fines defaulters' whereabouts.

Most of the amount locked in through arrangements was received through calls to 0800 4 FINES and there was also an increase in enquiries through www.fines.govt.nz.

Fines defaulters who fail to come forward risk having their details published in local papers in Wellington, Masterton, Palmerston North, Hawke's Bay, Wanganui and New Plymouth over two consecutive weekends - 15 and 22 November 2003.

Members of the public can check to see if they have a fine either by calling a toll free number 0800 4 FINES (0800 4 34637) or visiting Fines On-Line at www.fines.govt.nz

ENDS

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