Figures published today by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) show continued improvement in collection rates across most fine and penalty types in Quarter 4 2022/23, including in both value and number.
This has contributed to more than £1 million being paid in to a fund supporting the victims of crime.
The Victim Surcharge Fund, which is administered by the Scottish Government, is contributed to from a percentage of each court fine.
More than £137,000 was collected in the last quarter for the fund that opened in November 2019.
The Manda Centre, an organisation that supports families and friends affected by trauma, loss and personal crisis, is one of the organisations to receive money from the Victim Surcharge Fund. One of their service users was allocated money to buy a video doorbell.
They said: “The video doorbell makes me feel safe at home. I can see and hear who is outside and can now record everything that is going on. I have peace of mind.”
Options available to support the collection of penalties include arresting wages, freezing bank accounts, benefit deductions and seizing cars.
The clamping of a Range Rover Evoque led one offender to pay court fines that had previously been ignored.
Past penalties from Glasgow and Airdrie Sheriff Courts for theft, not paying for a TV licence, as well driving without insurance or a licence had all been unpaid until the SUV was immobilised. As a result of avoiding the repayments, a clamping fee was added on top of the £1090 outstanding since 2017.
Another long-term fine avoider endured a bank arrestment order as their £15,000 fine was finally cleared. After being convicted in 2015 at Lanark Sheriff Court under the environmental protection act, the offender made a few initial payments before stopping entirely. The order was carried out in June this year and the remaining £11,720 was cleared shortly afterwards.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs Angela Constance said: “It is absolutely right that criminals should pay towards helping victims of crime as they recover from their experience.
“This milestone in penalty payments to the Victim Surcharge Fund helps to shine a light on the Scottish Government’s commitment to put victims’ rights and needs at the centre of the criminal justice system.
“Since its introduction in 2019, the Victim Surcharge Fund has made payments to 11 organisations supporting victims and survivors of crime, helping more than 1,200 people. I look forward to the fund opening again for applications before the end of the year.”
The overall collection performance reflects continuing and targeted action by SCTS Fines Enforcement Officers.
The fines collection rates cover a three-year period over the financial years 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22. Within the Sheriff Court, fine by value paid or on track to be paid remains consistently strong at 87%.
However, while SCTS is committed to ensuring fines are paid, the service also recognises that individuals face the very real risk of suffering significant financial hardship at this time.
Fines Enforcement Teams continue to provide information, advice and support to those who are struggling to maintain their payments.
SCTS Executive Director of Court Operations David Fraser said: “The current cost-of-living crisis continues to bite and we recognise that this may impact on people’s ability to pay fines.
“However, ignoring fines and doing nothing can lead to further action being taken which may include additional costs.
“I would urge anyone who is struggling to pay to get in touch with us so we can provide support and advice.
“Where we are satisfied that offenders have failed to pay without a reasonable excuse, Fines Enforcement Teams will employ robust sanctions, including bank account arrestment orders, vehicle clamping, earning arrestments, deductions from benefits and warrants being issued for arrest.
“So please make sure you contact us to make suitable arrangements to pay and avoid any of this action being taken.”
Anyone looking for advice or information on paying their fine can access it easily via our national telephone helpline on 0300 790 0014 or online form.
Most fines can be paid round the clock on our secure website at https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/taking-action/pay-a-fine 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.