Filter

Question

47. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the action that will be taken to address the €35 million outstanding in courts' fines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40313/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I wish to advise the Deputy that I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided the statistics set out below in relation to the value of uncollected fines as recorded on the Courts Service Criminal Case Tracking System (CCTS).

Year
No. of Fines due
Value of Fines due
Jan – Dec 2013
13,132
€4,241,239.29
Jan - Dec 2014
16,533
€5,852,055.11
Jan – Dec 2015
29,141
€11,125,905.53
Jan – 28 Oct 2016
41,513
€14,305,331.50
Total
100,319
€35,524,531.43

The treatment of these fines falls into two categories, firstly fines which were imposed prior to the commencement of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 in January 2016 and secondly, fines imposed thereafter.
In relation to fines imposed prior to the commencement of the Act, the following is the position: warrants for the enforcement of fines imposed in 2013 and 2014 have been issued to An Garda Síochána. The issue of fines warrants for unpaid fines, in respect of fines imposed in 2015, commenced from mid-2015 and continued on a monthly basis as fines became due for payment. Once a warrant has issued for the non-payment of a fine, enforcement then becomes a matter for An Garda Síochána.
In relation to these pre-2014 Act fines, where a warrant for the enforcement of fines due is issued to An Garda Síochána, the fine may be collected by the Garda Warrant Officer and paid to the Courts Service. In some instances the fined person may have been lodged in prison in default of payment of fine or the fines warrant may have been cancelled following an application to the court.
In relation to persons lodged in prison in default of payment of fines, the Prison Service provides on a monthly basis details of the fines in respect of which fined persons have been lodged in prison in default of payment. The details are updated to the CCTS. Currently a total of 15,285 warrants with a total value of over €5 million await update to the CCTS. On completion of this update, the total value of fines due will reduce to circa €30.5m.
In relation to fines imposed in 2016, the vast majority of these fall for enforcement under the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014. The Courts Service has undertaken an extensive ICT development programme to enhance the CCTS to provide for the payment of fines by instalment and additionally to provide for the enforcement provisions provided for in the Act. This enhancement of the CCTS is now in the final stages of testing and subject to satisfactory completion of testing, it is anticipated that the Courts Service will be in a position to commence issuing notices to fined persons to attend Court in default of recovery of payment of fine in the first Quarter of 2017.