A Ministry of Justice crackdown on
fines and reparations has reduced the amount owed to the
taxpayer to its lowest level in eight years.
Figures released by Courts Minister Chester Borrows show $224
million was collected last year, bringing the amount owed to
$576 million - the lowest level since November 2004.
Figures for Dunedin reveal $5.68 million was collected last
year, reducing the overall balance to $11.4 million overdue.
Nationally, fines and reparations peaked at $807 million in
2008-09, and the reduced loan book was due to a targeted
collections effort by the Ministry of Justice, he said.
''The message we are sending to people that owe fines is to
contact the ministry and arrange to take care of them,'' Mr
Borrows said. The preference was for people to make payment
arrangements rather than enforcement options, ''but if people
repeatedly fail to meet their obligations they can expect to
hear from the ministry''.
He also had a message for those who had left the country
''The Ministry of Justice continues to work with people who
leave New Zealand owing fines. ''I encourage anyone who owes
a fine to the New Zealand courts and is overseas to make
contact with the ministry and make arrangements to pay what
they owe,'' he said.
Earlier this month, officials stopped two people at the
border owing fines of more than $25,000, with both needing to
pay their fines before being allowed to travel again.
Nationwide, the proportion of fines that were now overdue had
reduced from 58% five years ago to 43.2% last year.
The value of imposed fines also fell, down 5% compared with
2011 at $251 million.
Since last year, credit agencies have been able to assess a
person's outstanding fines and reparations when assessing
their ability to buy goods on credit or hire purchase.
Between February and December, there had been more than
369,000 requests for credit checks of outstanding fines, with
$14.9 million worth of fines matched to those applying for
credit and $6.9 million collected.
In addition, data sharing with Inland Revenue and the
Ministry of Social Development helped locate those who had an
outstanding debt, resulting in $63.75 million collected last