Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

£1.8bn fines and orders outstanding

The Government has admitted it needs to do more to collect fines and carry out confiscation orders imposed by the courts

Nearly £2 billion in court fines and confiscation orders remains unpaid, new figures have shown, while the Government has admitted it needs to do more to tackle the debt.

The total value of outstanding fines and orders imposed at the end of the 2011-2012 period was £1.8 billion, a slight dip from the £1.9 billion remaining at the start of the year, said Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

While criminals' ill-gotten gains were used to fund a record £22.3 million in compensation to victims in the period, Justice Minister Helen Grant said the Government "recognises more must be done to tackle the outstanding debt".

Meanwhile, a total of £484 million was collected from offenders in the period, while 75% of all orders imposed in 2011-2012 have been paid in full.

The total collected from offenders during the period is down from £497 million in the previous year, the MoJ said. while compensation collected was up by nearly a third from £17 million. Of the £1.8 billion outstanding in fines and orders, £1.2 billion is made up of confiscation orders, said HMCTS.

However, a third of this money - about £400 million - will never be collected because it related to offenders who are dead, deported or missing, orders which are being appealed against, or hidden assets.

Ms Grant said: "We are determined to take action which will ensure criminals are made to pay what they owe. We've done a good job of collecting the smaller fines- £484 million last year - and we are not giving up on the larger debts which have been more difficult to recover.

"Enforcement agencies are also working with authorities in other countries and hiring specialist teams to track down hidden assets which make up a substantial part of the larger debts.

"By keeping these orders on the books as outstanding, we can stop the criminal using this money for personal gain or criminal activity. If they ever surface, the assets will be seized. Ultimately we want to ensure that criminals pay."

HMCTS said it continues to look for a private debt collector to help bring in outstanding fines and confiscation orders. It also developing a system to improve the collection of fixed penalty notices to make paying the fines easier.

www.justice.gov.uk/about/hmcts(Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service)

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