The West

Clamp on fine dodgers pays off
Locked in place: Govt clamp on fine dodgers pays off. Picture: The West Australian

Wheel clamps were used on 314 vehicles and 276 sets of numberplates were removed in the first six months of the State Government's crackdown on those flouting court fines and infringements.

The strict system also led to almost 80 per cent of the initial top 100 fine evaders "named and shamed" on a Government website settling their dues or entering time-to-pay arrangements after being identified publicly.

The measures were introduced in a bid to recoup the spiralling debt owed by people failing to pay fines - $259 million when the changes took effect on August 21.

Figures released to The West Australian reveal the debt has since increased to $273.4 million.

But the Attorney-General's Department said the increase was attributed to three anomalies that had added $16 million to the outstanding debt. This was made up of $9 million from an execution warrant fee introduced with the get-tough measures and two unusually big registrations with the Fines Enforcement Registry.

These were $2.7 million from the WA Electoral Commission, mainly for fines for failing to vote, and $4.3 million from the Magistrate's Court.

The department's figures show the registry collected an extra $4.2 million in the first six months of the new laws compared with the same six months the year before.

The total owed by debtors owing more than $2000 was reduced by $15.5 million.

The department's criminal enforcement team clamped the cars of 27 people more than once.

Attorney-General Michael Mischin said the results were promising. The effectiveness of the measures would continue to be monitored and work was being done to expand the scheme to some regional areas.

Shadow attorney-general John Quigley said paying fines appeared to remain "optional" for many, despite the Government's announcement five years ago that it would sort out the problem.

"One top of that, one in seven of the prison population are fine defaulters," Mr Quigley said.

"In the Kimberley, they are transporting fine defaulters by plane to serve two or three days in jail at the weekend at enormous expense to the State."

The West Australian

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