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Fines (Collection)

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 3 July 2012

In the financial year 2011-12, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service collected £279 million in respect of criminal fines, further reducing the cost of enforcement and achieving the best ever performance against the payment rate measure. But now we want to do better, so we have developed better-quality performance indicators for publication and are exploring the potential for creating a partnership with a commercial company to build on the improvements we have already made in fines collection.

What the Minister did not reveal is that over £600 million in outstanding fines is owed by criminals, of which £10 million relates to Staffordshire, and a further £5.5 million of unrecovered debts have already been written off. When faced with falling living standards and the effects of ill-planned spending cuts, my constituents want to know why this Government are allowing criminals to think that crime does pay.

The hon. Gentleman mentions the collection backlog, and thereby raises the collection inadequacies of the previous Administration which we are now having to sort out. In 2011-12, the payment rate was 106%, and last year, for the first time since 2003-04, the outstanding balance was reduced by £16 million—that is, 3%.

Given the new statutory presumption that victims of crime will be compensated, can we ensure that whatever the means of offenders, they will all have to make amends to their victims?