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Officers welcome parking infringement review

November 25, 2004

Parking officers welcome parking infringement review – and keen to chase up unpaid fines themselves

New Zealand’s parking officers are keen to chase up unpaid parking fines rather than trawling the process through the courts.

The Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing the parking infringement process. Submissions close on Christmas Eve.

Associate Justice Minister Rick Barker recently launched a review of the infringement system, aimed at making the collection of overdue parking fines more manageable.

Currently the Department of Courts chase unpaid fines but parking officers would like to see local authorities take over the role by using the courts as a collection agency as a last resort instead of the first resort.

New Zealand Parking Association chairman Colin Waite said today the review should consider changing the payment system of parking fines.

Mr Waite said the Ministry of Justice are taking too long to chase parking and other infringement fines.

``The amount of infringement fines collected by the courts after five years would struggle to be anywhere near 75 percent,’’ he said.

``Other shortcomings include the accuracy of the data we must use in relation to names and addresses of offenders and the inflexibility of the courts in relation to offenders revised or updated details.’’

Mr Waite said he hoped the days of motorists being able to avoid paying parking fines are on the way out.

Associate Justice Minister Rick Barker has launched a review of the infringement system, aimed at a better way of collecting overdue parking fines.

Mr Barker said he wants city councils and the Justice Ministry to work together to find a solution.

Mr Waite said parking wardens were worried grave shortcomings for collecting parking tickets would not be addressed.

``We expect the debt to councils to continue to mount and the system will continue to fail.

``We may need to have separate systems to suit the needs of the Police and the local councils who enforce traffic type infringements.

``The Parking Association would then support a central system from which all 'traffic' infringement notices are processed.’’

Parking wardens say they will collect far more unpaid parking fines than the courts if they were given the job.

``We believe the courts should not be involved in the initial stages in the collection of unpaid fines,’’ Mr Waite said

``We feel there would be a significant saving to the country by us collecting overdue fines. For every parking file we lodge with the courts there is a lodgement fee of $30. We could save the courts, time, effort and resources by doing it ourselves.

``The overdue fines wouldn’t clog up the courts and there would be no need for the Justice ministry to establish new call centres.’’

Mr Waite estimated well over a million parking fines were issued in New Zealand every year by local authorities.

He said if ticket officers issued parking fines in the first place it would make sense for continuity and cost to see the process through to the end.

Local authorities need to be given powers to employ debt collecting agencies to collect longer overdue unpaid fines, Mr Waite said.


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