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Courts and Tribunal Service Trust

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 11 December 2014

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has prepared a trust statement providing an account of the collection of revenues which are due to be paid to HM Treasury. The statement includes the value of fines and confiscation orders imposed by the judiciary; fixed penalties imposed by the police; the value of collections; the balances paid over to third parties including victims of crime, the Home Office and HM Treasury; and the balance of outstanding impositions.

I am delighted that, for the first time, the Comptroller and Auditor General has been able to provide an unqualified audit opinion on the trust statement which recognises the quality and thoroughness of the work we have completed to address financial reporting issues previously identified by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The trust statement demonstrates that we have continued to maintain strong collection performance levels with more than £518 million in financial impositions collected from offenders during 2013-14. Victim surcharge receipts have increased by £28 million from 2012-13 to 2013-14—to around £38.5 million in 2013-14—providing additional funds to help support the victims of rape, domestic violence and families bereaved by murder and fatal road traffic crimes. To aid in the provision of these vital services a proportion of the additional victim surcharge receipts has been allocated to police and crime commissioners for innovative local projects to support victims.

HMCTS recognises the importance of the recommendations made by the NAO value for money study on confiscation orders and we are working with our partner enforcement agencies to address those recommendations and ensure that criminals continue to be deprived of the proceeds of crime. The agencies involved in the enforcement of confiscation orders, which includes the Home Office, the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service, take every action available to them to tackle outstanding debt including the addition of interest and imprisonment for those who do not pay.

The robust application of sanctions in relation to outstanding fine debt has resulted in a 13% reduction in gross debt relating to fine impositions since April 2012. The amount collected has increased in both 2013-14 and 2012-13 compared to 2011-12. Legislation introduced in December 2013 allows HMCTS to obtain data from HM Revenue and Customs and Department for Work and Pensions for the purposes of enforcing outstanding fines in a more efficient and effective way.

To build on improvements made in recent years in the collection of criminal financial penalties, HMCTS is in the final stages of a procurement exercise to determine whether an external partner can bring the innovation and investment in technology that HMCTS needs to further improve performance and efficiency. The continuing improvement the agencies are making, combined with our future plans, will ensure that more criminals pay and that taxpayers get better value for money.