GENERAL SCOTLAND: Court fines report

Newly published figures show collection of court fines and penalties remain steady despite the restrictions imposed by lockdown.

By Neil McGrory
Friday, 22nd May 2020, 10:37 am
Court-imposed fines are currently on track to be paid
Court-imposed fines are currently on track to be paid

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service shows that since 2016 91 per cent of Sheriff Court fines are either paid in full or on track to be paid.

Collection continues despite the lockdown but it has been acknowledged that many people are confronting financial pressures due to the pandemic. Therefore new measures have been issued to allow enforcement officers to provide information and advice to people who are struggling to pay.

A new online form makes it easier to seek new payment terms and a dedicated information helpline is being set up. Fines can still be paid by post or online.

Further analysis of the pandemic’s impact will be undertaken in the next quarterly report which is due in August.

The latest report, published today (Thursday) is the first to include information about the collection of the Victim Surcharge Penalty which was introduced in late 2019. So far two thirds of the imposed penalties have been collected.

Chief operations officer David Fraser said: “I am pleased to introduce information on the Victim Surcharge in this new report. The data will be of great interest to stakeholders and the public and is a further step in openness and transparency around data. 

“We recognise the impact that Coronavirus can have on fines payers which is why we are making it easier for customers to seek information advice and support. However, this does not mean that fine payment can be avoided and FEOs will still employ robust sanctions against those who continue to default on their fines unless they are able to evidence/demonstrate reasonable cause. 

“The message to fines customers remains clear – continue to pay your fines or contact our fines enforcement team if you are struggling to pay your fine. Doing nothing is not an option.” 

Non-payment of fines can result in frozen bank accounts, arrested earnings, clamped vehicles or arrest by the police. All offenders are given reasonable and affordable repayment terms while defaulters are warned before further action is taken. Repayment terms can also be adjusted for those in genuine financial hardship.

Fines can be paid online at www.scotcourts.gov.uk/payyourfine or by phoning 0300 790 0003 and the only fines which cannot be paid electronically are for driving offences. Postal payments can be sent to Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Central Processing Unit, PO Box 23, Glasgow, G59 9DA.

Neil McGrory , Local Democracy Reporting Service