Total court fines still to be paid soars to £18.5m

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COURT fines worth £3.6 million have gone unpaid in the last six months, new figures show.

That takes the total outstanding bill to £18.5m, according to the Scottish Court Service.

The Scottish Government has introduced a presumption against sentences of less than three months, and introduced community paybacks, which include fines, as an alternative to custody.

However, the Scottish Conservatives warned the number of unpaid fines shows the system is not working.

Around £1m of sheriff court fines, £700,000 from justice of the peace courts, £1.1m in fiscal direct penalties and a total of £800,000 in police antisocial behaviour penalties, have gone unpaid.

Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont said: “This level of non-payment makes a joke of the whole system.

“It undermines public confidence, and sends a message to criminals that – even when they’re lucky enough to dodge jail – they won’t get chased up for their unpaid fines.”

The Scottish Court Service (SCS) said there has been a steady improvement in collection rates since it took responsibility.

Interim SCS executive director Cliff Binning “Our commitment to enforce payment at all levels is having a significant impact.”

A Scottish Government spokesman added: “SCS pursue all outstanding fines and their robust approach gives a clear message to defaulters that there is no place to hide.

“Many fines are paid in instalments over a longer period than six months to the UK Treasury.”