Fines collection rates rise as offenders forced to pay up
The value of fines and penalties collected in the last three years has risen in all categories, reflecting consistently strong collection rates, the new Quarterly Fines Report from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service reveals.
The 43rd Quarterly Fines Report shows that the value of Sheriff Court fines imposed during the three-year period between 2016/17 and 2019/20, and now either paid or on track to be paid as at 20 January 2020, has risen to 90 per cent – an increase of one percentage point over the last quarter.
The value of JP Court fines shows a rise of two percentage points from 88 to 90 per cent over the same period, while fiscal penalties are up three points from 73 to 76 per cent and Police Fixed Penalties are also up by three points from 78 to 81 per cent.
These high rates reflect ongoing success by fines enforcement units in pursuing non-payers through measures such as seizing bank accounts, clamping cars or arrest warrants.
In the Sheriffdom of Glasgow and Strathkelvin more than £17,000 was paid up by 75 offenders who had their bank accounts frozen over the past quarter with 37 offenders settling their bills immediately when they found their accounts had been arrested. This included a city driver who was fined £1,800 for multiple road traffic offences but had only paid a fraction of his fines. He settled the total amount within four days of finding his account blocked.
In Lothian and Borders Sheriffdom, an Edinburgh man fined for drug dealing, fraud and driving while using a phone stumped up £2,335 after his account was frozen. The drug dealer had previously ignored warnings and dodged paying up for more than two years until enforcement officers obtained the successful bank arrestment order.
SCTS chief operations officer David Fraser said: “The latest Quarterly Fines Report reflects a continuing success story of steady improvement in fines collection and illustrates how fines enforcement teams continue to be highly effective in securing unpaid fines. It is very unwise not to pay a fine or not to engage with an enforcement officer if someone is having difficulty paying. With our national dedicated team of fines enforcement officers, non-payment of a fine or non-engagement is simply not an option.”