'Pay or stay' campaign success

The ''pay or stay'' campaign that stops people with unpaid fines at Customs when travelling internationally has been deemed a success by the Ministry of Justice, although few travellers have been stopped at southern international airports.

Figures released by the ministry under the Official Information Act revealed that 743 people had been stopped by Customs in New Zealand up to last November. The campaign began in October 2006. Of those, 10 people were stopped at Dunedin International Airport, seven at arrivals and three at departures. One person was stopped at Queenstown Airport, at arrivals.

Of those stopped at Customs for unpaid fines in New Zealand, 70% were at arrivals and 29% were at departures. The location when stopped of the remainder was unknown.

A ministry spokesman said when an ''intercept alert'' was triggered at Customs, they notified police at the airport, who then connected them, by phone, to a court officer. If the court officer could not obtain full payment, or agree a suitable payment arrangement, police could arrest the person and prevent them travelling.

The ministry could not say how many people stopped had been prevented by arrest from travelling.

The 175 people who triggered alerts at Customs in the 2011-12 financial year had paid $442,722 in fines and reparation and $938,244 in fines were placed under arrangement.

In the past four years, the 500 people that triggered an intercept alert, paid $2.55 million in fines and reparation and placed $5.86 million under arrangement.



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