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More staff needed to chase fines

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

28 December 2005

More staff needed to chase fines

National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, says many offenders are getting away without paying their fines on time, if at all, because the Ministry of Justice does not have enough staff to chase them.

A Justice Department report received under the Official Information Act shows that as at April 2005, the latest period for which figures are available, fines receipts were $3.4 million below target. It also shows that though receipts for the full year are expected to fall in the target range of between $199 million and $216 million, they would be below the midpoint of $207 million.

The Ministry says the lower receipting ‘is due to staff vacancies, primarily in the Contact Centre’. It says its personnel budget was $717,000 under-spent due to ‘continued recruitment difficulties for the Contact Centre, Central Processing Unit, Collect analysis project, and District and National offices’.

Mr Power says it is imperative that staff are hired to ensure fines are paid on time.

“This is an important part of the justice penalty system and must not be allowed to falter.

“We must continue to send a strong message to people that if you are fined then you have to pay. And we cannot do that without having staff to chase these people up.”

Mr Power points to the escalating amount of overdue fines as an example of what can happen if there is any let-up in payment enforcement. In 2004/05 there were $341 million in overdue fines, compared with $320 million in 2003/04 and $186 million when Labour came to power.

“People need to know there are consequences if they don’t pay their fines. If we let this get any further out of control we take the risk that our justice system will become a joke.”


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