Scottish Court Service owed £6.5m in fines

The Scottish Court Service is owed £6.5m in unpaid fines, according to new figures.

A report on fines and financial penalties showed £2m worth of sheriff court fines remain outstanding for the financial year 2011/12.

Some £2m of fiscal direct penalties are still in arrears, while £1.4m is owed to Justice of the Courts.

A further £1.1m of antisocial behaviour penalties are still outstanding, the figures showed.

The figures represent 13.4% of the total value of sheriff court fines due to be paid during the past year, and 42.1% of fiscal direct penalties.

The Scottish Court Service said all outstanding fines and financial penalties are being pursued.

Enforcement actions include benefit deductions, freezing bank accounts, arresting wages and seizing cars.

System 'weakness'

Commenting on the figures, Conservative justice spokesman David McLetchie said the level of non-payment was bringing the system into disrepute and undermining public confidence in the justice system

He said: "We need to examine how we can more effectively collect such fines.

"Fiscal fines are supposed to be an alternative to prosecution, but when they are simply ignored by so many, the public will conclude that they are not much of an alternative."

Lewis Macdonald, Labour's justice spokesman, said: "It is completely unacceptable that one in three people are not bothering to pay a penny towards the fines imposed by our courts and this illustrates a major weakness in our justice system."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Overall fine collection has improved significantly in recent years and is now at its highest-ever rate.

"While the collection of fines is an operational matter for the Scottish Court Service, Scottish Government is working with them to deliver further improvements to aid enforcement."

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