Come to us before we come for you: Borrows

Courts Minister Chester Borrows has a simple message for those in the South who collectively owe more than $27 million in fines and reparations.

''People who owe the court money need to come to us before we come for you,'' he said.

Nationwide, fines and reparations totalled $564 million, down from a 2009 peak of $806 million.

In Otago and Southland, outstanding fines and reparations totalled $27.5 million in 2012-13, down from $31.46 million in 2010-11.

During the same period, Dunedin recorded the largest drop with $1,503,240 collected, followed by Invercargill with $1.37 million.

In addition, more than $6.9 million in fines and $1.2 million in reparations were imposed in Dunedin last year.

Over the same period, Queenstown recorded $1.4 million in fines and $210,830 in reparations, Oamaru $955,400 in fines and $85,640 in reparations, and Alexandra $714,090 in fines and $125,580 in reparations.

Mr Borrows said the Government was backing court collections with ''better tools than they've ever had before''.

Reparation money was collected by the court and then paid out to the victim it was intended for.

It was usually paid in a lump sum once the amount had been collected, but this could be altered to suit the victim, he said.

Offender levies were collected by the court and used to fund services for victims, such as crime scene grants.

Levies totalling $4,455,290 were collected nationally during 2012-13, with $280,000 coming from Otago and Southland. All fines went into the Government's consolidated fund, he said.

Mr Borrows said falling crime rates meant fewer fines were being imposed. Enhanced data matching with Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development has allowed the Ministry of Justice to track down people who would otherwise not have paid their fines.

Projected to bring in $20 million in 2012-13, it has delivered more than $80 million of hard-to-reach fines in the past year.

Credit checking of fines, in which the ministry tells credit-reporting agencies if a potential client has overdue fines or reparation in return for updated contact information, has brought in a further $16.7 million.

Amount owed from each Southern court area
2010-11 - 2011-12 - 2012-13

Alexandra: $1,435,340 - $1,340,840 - $1,329,150
Balclutha: $1,338,440 - $1,170,000 - $1,105,120
Dunedin: $13,240,310 - $11,761,300 - $11,737,070
Gore: $1,574,230 - $1,291,980 - $1,196,020
Invercargill: $9,077,340 - $7,885,890 - $7,701,750
Lumsden: $39,600 - $37,120 - $31,280
Oamaru: $2,192,140 - $1,862,500 - $1,763,060
Queenstown: $2,568,420 - $2,545,650 - $2,663,810
(Source: Ministry of Justice)


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