Fines collection holds steady during pandemic

Fines collection holds steady during pandemic

The latest quarterly fines report has been published by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and shows that fines collection rates have held strong in spite of the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

The new report, which covers the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 Q1 as measured at 19 October 2020, shows that the three-year collection rate for Sheriff Court fines, by value paid or on track to be paid, remains steady at 86 per cent. The collection rate for Justice of the Peace Court fines is 85 per cent, up one percentage point.

Some 2,500 new payment terms have been agreed with offenders within the three months prior to 19 October 2020, following the introduction of a dedicated helpline and an online form to simplify the process for customers to seek information and advice. Liability to pay fines remains, however, and failure to engage with fines officers will result in enforcement action being taken.

The latest QFR contains a new section on fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued by police in relation to coronavirus regulations. More than a third of the value of these penalties has already been paid. The new section has been provided in the light of high levels of interest in these FPNs and this information will continue to be updated in upcoming reports.

Updated figures on collection of the victim surcharge are also published in QFR 46 and show that 73 per cent of the value of these penalties has been paid as at 19 October 2020. The surcharge penalty was introduced by the Scottish government at the end of 2019 on fines relating to offences committed on or after 25 November 2019.

Chief operations officer David Fraser said: “We recognise the impact that coronavirus can have on fines payers and we are maintaining additional support, with information and advice, to take account of that. The strong rates over time, evident in this report, show that our processes and systems are maintaining efficient collection during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We will employ robust sanctions against offenders who we are satisfied have failed to pay without reasonable excuse. The message to fines customers remains clear – continue to pay your fines or seek advice if you are struggling. Doing nothing is not an option.

“I am also pleased to be able to include in the new report, the bespoke figures on Covid-related FPNs which will be of wide public interest and further demonstrate our commitment to openness and transparency around data.”

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