Taranaki's court fines less than previous year

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2013

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Almost $6 million in fines were dished out in Taranaki's courts last year.

But the amount is an improvement on 2011, when the region's offenders accumulated $6.5m in both fines and reparation orders.

The numbers were released yesterday by Courts Minister Chester Borrows, who said the amount owed nationally, most of which is for traffic offences, was at its lowest level in more than eight years.

Nationally $576m was owed, the lowest amount since November 2004 and down from a peak of $807 million at the end of the 2008-09 year, Mr Borrows said.

The proportion of overdue fines has also reduced significantly, from 58 per cent five years ago to 43.2 per cent.

With crime at a 30-year low, the value of fines imposed also continues to fall, down 5 per cent compared with 2011 when it was $251m, he said.

In Taranaki in 2011, $6,563,207 in fines and reparations were imposed while last year the amount was $5,943,863.

In 2011, 30.4 per cent remained overdue in New Plymouth while in Hawera 40.4 per cent were outstanding.

Last year New Plymouth increased to 31.3 per cent still overdue while in Hawera the overdue amount had improved to 32.1 per cent.

Mr Borrows said the reduced debt nationally was due to a range of new methods and enforcement tools following the passing last year of the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill and credit checks.

New initiatives are to be introduced this year including driver licence stops, which will make it possible to suspend the driving licences of people with overdue traffic fines.

"This is a strong enforcement option for those that refuse to engage with the court over their traffic fines and we expect this to both reduce the cost of collecting fines and help reduce the amount overdue," Mr Borrows said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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