In the Media

?486m still owed in court fines

PUBLISHED July 23, 2007

The amount of uncollected court fines has risen despite a high-profile Government campaign to improve performance, it has been revealed.

Ministry of Justice data showed ?486 million in fines was outstanding at the end of March in England and Wales, up ?12 million on the previous year.

However, the figure did not necessarily indicate the whole sum was in arrears because it included all sums owed to the courts.

London had ?111 million outstanding.

The second highest figure was in the West Midlands (?40 million), followed by Greater Manchester (?27 million), Merseyside (?24 million) and Thames Valley (?22 million).

The lowest amount was in Suffolk with ?2.2 million.

Ministers have mounted a series of initiatives to increase the amount of money which is taken from criminals who have been fined.

But it has been claimed they have not gone far enough.

In January an influential committee of MPs said existing arrangements were "ridiculous" and urged ministers to bring in a range of reforms.

The Public Accounts Committee said millions of pounds in fines are not collected each year. Its report called for "strenuous steps" to improve the collection rate, and raised the prospect of charging interest on unpaid fines or offering discounts to quick payers.