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Half of people believe fines won't be paid

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

18 December 2006

Half of people believe fines, reparation won't be paid

Labour has allowed the reparations and fines collection system to deteriorate so badly that about half of the people surveyed believe offenders can get away without paying up, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on the survey 'Public Perceptions of the New Zealand Court System and Processes'.

"This survey makes some worrying findings, among them that:

* More people, 48%, tend to agree or strongly agree that most people who have a fine can get away with not paying. This is up from 43% in 2003, and 45% in 2005.

* 54% agree or strongly agree that most people who are ordered to pay reparation can get away with it. This is unchanged from 2005 but up from 51% in 2003.

"If that's what half of the general public think, what about the offenders?

"Despite Courts Minister Rick Barker's bluster that he is getting on top of people who don't pay their fines and reparations, it is clear that most people don't believe him.

"Last year, Labour wrote off more fines and reparation than any Government in recent history - $45 million in fines and $1.6 million in reparation - so is it any wonder people think they are soft on defaulters?

"Fines are a punishment, and reparation is recompense to victims for lost income or damage, or as further punishment, and this Government's failure to ensure these payments are made is a disgrace.

"What sort of message are we sending to offenders if they know they can get away with not paying up, and how are victims supposed to move on with their lives if reparations ordered by the courts haven't been paid?

"This Government has had seven years to get on top of this problem and improve the system, but they've done nothing."

ENDS

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