Data-matching catches hard to reach fines

Wednesday 30 May 2012, 3:53PM
By Chester Borrows

A new government data-matching initiative has collected over $16 million in hard-to-catch fines in its first seven months, Minister for Courts Chester Borrows announced today.

The amount collected is already more than the $15.6 million targeted for the first full year of the initiative. The scheme, which involves data-matching with the Inland Revenue Department and the Ministry of Social Development, was launched on 16 October 2011.

“Data-matching targets people that we have been unable to locate by other means.  These are people who are able to pay their fines, but deliberately chose not to, and that’s just not acceptable,” says Mr Borrows.

During this period, around 193 000 people who owe fines or reparations have been identified by the data-matching scheme.

“For fines to be a credible sanction, the public must believe that they will be enforced.  The success of this data-matching initiative should show people just how serious this Government is about maintaining fines as an effective tool in our justice system,” says Mr Borrows.

Other initiatives to improve the collection of fines include the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, which was passed last year to strengthen enforcement measures available when people do not arrange or continue to pay outstanding monies, as ordered by the courts.

Measures in the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill include:

  • Releasing information on fines debts to credit reporting agencies (in force from February 2012);
  • Resentencing people with uncollectible reparations to the sentence they would have originally received if not for the reparations (coming into force in August 2012); and
  • The suspension of drivers licences for unpaid traffic-related fines (coming into force in November 2013).