Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan TD has said that unless more robust measures are put in place to collect court imposed fines there will be no reduction in the number of criminal offences.
The Dublin Bay South TD has called on the Minister for Justice to ensure that the Courts Service has the adequate resources to collect fines that have been ordered for collection for offences including burglary.
Deputy O’Callaghan recently received information through Parliamentary Question which reveals that €15,533,183.30 in fines imposed on 45,720 criminals by the courts last year is currently outstanding and remains uncollected.
He commented, “Last year I was made aware of the almost €50 million euro worth of court fines which were uncollected between 2011 and 2016.
“I had hoped that the system would have been strengthened but the latest figures I have received indicate that over €15 million in court imposed fines were not collected in 2017.
“This is a trend that cannot be allowed continue as it disrespects the victims of crimes in Ireland and is a sizable sum of money that could and should be invested by the State in the more effective provision of public services.
“The primary purpose of the Fines Act 2014 is to reduce the number of people being sent to prison for the non-payment of fines. If 45,720 convicted criminals can get away with not paying fines and are not vigorously pursued, then there appears no purpose in issuing those fines in the first instance.
“Over 140 of those convicted who have not paid were convicted for a serious burglary offence and yet they’ve avoided paying any price. This defeats the very purpose of fining those presented in court. The Government must urgently examine the feasibility of collecting imposed fines automatically.
“Without more robust means of enforcing court fines, the value of uncollected fines will continue to increase.We need to rapidly increase collection rates.
“The Minister must further strengthen the system in place to ensure that all fines are paid in full and that public confidence in the process is maintained,” O’Callaghan concluded.