Police scramble after $600,000 fine fiasco

Katie Versteeg received an incorrect ticket last month.
Katie Versteeg received an incorrect ticket last month.
Police are scrambling to rectify and reissue more than $600,000 in traffic fine notices that were sent to the wrong people.

A computer glitch meant at least 20,000 incorrect tickets were issued, police said.

Some of the tickets had been paid, and those people would need to be reimbursed.

Identification details registered with the Transport Agency from October 22 to December 16 were not updated in police computer systems, meaning people who had sold their cars or moved house during that period may have been fined for offences they didn't commit.

The mistake followed an Auckland Transport error late last year when motorists' details were sent directly to debt collectors instead of notices being issued. Auckland Transport was forced to apologise to the 237 motorists affected, explaining the mistake as a systems error.

Police spokesman Ross Henderson said the 20,000-plus tickets were for genuine offences - they'd just been sent to the wrong people.

"Someone has done something, speeding or something else to trigger the speed camera. There's an offence, but just not by the person we thought it was. We know during that period that those notices issued have potentially got questions over them."

The exact monetary total of wrongly issued fines was not yet known. But national road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said that of the more than 20,000 fines incorrectly issued, "the largest proportion were likely to be in the $30 bracket".. Some may have been charged up to $630, he said.

"Police sincerely apologise to all of those affected by this one-off technical issue."

Most of the incorrect tickets were for speeding, with others issued for red light offences and police-issued parking notices.

Katie Versteeg, 22, of Titirangi in west Auckland, was surprised when she received an incorrect ticket last month. A number of the details were wrong, she said.

"They got my name wrong ... said I was driving a car that is not even registered to me, said I was driving it at a time I was actually at work. And apparently I'm 40 years old."

She was sent the ticket on January 9, to her old address in Hillsborough. She had left that house in October and had notified NZTA, she said.

Police were trying to work their way through the huge backlog of incorrect tickets, said Mr Henderson.

Tickets that had already been paid would be reimbursed "as soon as we can", he said.

Others would be transferred to the actual owners of the cars caught by the cameras.

- Sam Boyer

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