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A record year for collection of fines at airports

Hon Rick Barker
Minister for Courts

26 August 2008

A record year for collection of fines at airports

More than $3 million fines and reparation has been collected this year. This proves the worth of the government initiative that can stop people from travelling overseas if they have unpaid fines or owe money to victims of crime.

Courts Minister Rick Barker said today that the results are encouraging and highlight how serious the government and the relevant agencies are about collecting unpaid fines and reparation.

"New Zealanders are getting the message that if they have outstanding fines or reparation, they may be stopped at the airport and made to pay," Mr Barker said.

"The way to deal with a fine or a reparation order is to sort out payment. They will not go away by themselves. The fact that people can be stopped at international airports around the country should be a warning to everyone that the Court will take a tough approach with people who have outstanding fines."

The Ministry of Justice can match records with the New Zealand Customs and Immigration so people with serious fines or those owing reparation can be stopped and possibly arrested at airports when leaving or entering New Zealand.

The collection of fines at airports initiative began in September 2006, and has seen more than $5.6 million collected.

"Since it started, 165 people have been stopped at airports and, combined with nationwide publicity that encourages people to Pay the Fine or Pay the Price, more than $5.6 million has been collected. This includes $2 million being repaid by installments."

"Recent television advertising depicting New Zealanders missing out on their overseas holiday because of unpaid fines has been successful in bringing this message home to people.

“In reality the proportion of money we have collected because of this initiative is probably even greater than $5.6 million," Mr Barker said.

“It shows that it’s just not acceptable to have unpaid fines or reparation. Just making the move of picking up the phone and talking could lead to a stress free holiday. People should think ahead. No one wants to get to an international airport and find they can’t leave the country because unpaid fines or reparation haven’t been sorted out," Mr Barker said.


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