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The bill for unpaid fines has soared to $257 million ahead of long-awaited laws which will crack down on hardcore defaulters who flout infringements and court penalties.

Drivers being nabbed by speed cameras have been identified as the major cause for the increase in the debt.

The total debt owed by people who have failed to pay their fines grew by $11 million in the six months from the end of last year to June 30.

Figures released by the Department of the Attorney-General this morning reveal there are more than 740,000 unpaid fines and that 137,394 driver’s licence suspensions were imposed against 55,606 individuals for unpaid fines in the first six months of the year.

WA Sherriff John Klarich said the increase did not represent any relaxation in the Fines Enforcement Registry’s pursuit of unpaid fines in the past six months.

“The major factor for the increase over the past six months is WA Police referring many more Multanova and other speed camera fines to the FER for enforcement,” Mr Klarich said.

He said the number of overall fines registered with the agency had increased by 16.5 per cent from 2010-2011 to last financial year, while the number of Multanova and camera infringements increased by 62.5 per cent.

Mr Klarich said the amount of outstanding fines collected had increased by $10 million over the past two financial years.

Laws which will give the Fines Enforcement Registry stronger powers and establish tougher penalties are waiting to be finally approved by the Lower House of State Parliament.

The crackdown includes “naming and shaming” tens of thousands of persistent fine defaulters on a website, wheel clamping debtors’ cars and stripping vehicles of number plates to allow police to easily identify people driving without a licence because of fines suspension.