The latest Quarterly Fines Report 49 is published today by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and shows that fines collection rates are recovering towards pre-Coronavirus pandemic levels.
The three-year collection rates for all fine/penalty types show improvement for both value and number when the figures as at 19 April 2021 are compared with 19 July 2021.
The three-year rate for Sheriff Court fines by value paid or on track to be paid, has risen to 90% and the JP Court rate to 89%, both up by one percentage point. The rates for Fiscal Penalties and Police Fixed Penalties by value paid or on track, have risen to 78% (up two percentage points) and 82% (up one point) respectively.
QFR 49 also introduces a further enhancement to the bulletin with publication of the national figures for Confiscation Orders. As at 19 July 2021, 83% of the value of Confiscation Orders imposed between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2021 has been paid. For this same period, the number of Confiscation Orders fully paid is 84%. It should be remembered that Confiscation Orders are outwith the scope of the administrative SCTS fines enforcement process and general enquiries about Proceeds of Crime and Confiscation Orders should be directed to COPFS Figures on collection of the Victim Surcharge also show continuing progress with more than £190,800 now collected. This amounts to 78% of the value of these penalties having been paid. The Victim Surcharge penalty was introduced by the Scottish Government at the end of 2019 on fines relating to offences committed on or after 25 November 2019.
The overall collection performance reflects continuing and targeted action by Fines Enforcement Officers. However, SCTS has recognised that individuals face the very real risk of suffering significant financial hardship during the Coronavirus crisis and has focussed on fines collection measures that also enable officers to provide information, advice and support to customers who are struggling to maintain their payments. An online form has been introduced to simplify the process for customers to seek information and advice.
Liability to pay fines remains, however, and failure to engage with fines officers will result in enforcement action being taken. Customers can pay easily using our 24/7 online and telephone payment channels.
Commenting on QFR 49, SCTS Executive Director of Court Operations David Fraser said: “These figures show reassuring progress in recovery from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic with continuing rises recorded in the report.
“We recognise the impact that Coronavirus can have on fines payers however, and we are maintaining additional support, with information and advice, to take account of that. The strong rates over time, evident in this report, show that our processes and systems are maintaining efficient collection.
“We will employ robust sanctions against offenders who we are satisfied have failed to pay without reasonable excuse. The message to fines customers remains clear – continue to pay your fines or seek advice if you are struggling. Doing nothing is not an option.
“I am pleased to introduce the latest enhancement to the Quarterly Fines Report in the provision of Confiscation OrderFines statistics which will be of wide public interest and again underlines our commitment to openness and transparency around data.”
Fines Enforcement Units have a number of measures available to pursue non-payers. These include freezing bank accounts, arresting earnings, deducting from benefits, clamping vehicles or obtaining arrest warrants.
In all cases, offenders have opportunities to make payment of their fines at a reasonable and affordable instalment rate. All defaulters are issued warnings before action is taken. Those in genuine financial difficulty can engage with enforcement officers to discuss payment terms.
Most fines can be paid round the clock on our secure website at www.scotcourts.gov.uk/payyourfine or using our automated telephone payment system by phoning 0300 790 0003. Only fines which involve the endorsement of a driving record cannot be paid electronically at the moment. For those penalties that cannot be paid using the online or telephone payment systems, customers can post payments to Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Central Processing Unit, PO Box 23, Glasgow, G59 9DA.