Ministry of Justice: Performance of the Collections Unit in collecting and enforcing fines.

The Collections Unit, a business unit of the Ministry of Justice, is responsible for collecting Court-imposed fines, and fines that began as infringement notices.

In this audit, I examined the role of the Collections Unit in collecting and enforcing Court-imposed and infringement fines, the policies and procedures that govern the business of the Collections Unit, and its efficiency and effectiveness in collecting fines.

Overall, the Collections Unit met my expectations. The Collections Unit is aware of its environment, and proactive in its business responses. My report makes recommendations that may assist the Collections Unit manage its workload and balance competing priorities.

Despite the achievements of the Collections Unit, supported by additional resources and legislative changes, the amount owed in unpaid fines is likely to continue to grow. This raises questions about the most effective and efficient system for dealing with offences that currently attract fines – a system that is consuming increasing public resources for collecting and enforcing fines, and contributing to the growing fines debt.

The computer program used by the Collections Unit, COLLECT, may not be able to manage the increasing numbers of fines, but would be expensive to replace. I will take a continued interest in the effectiveness of the COLLECT system.

The current review of the infringement system will need to properly consider, among other factors, the longer-term management of the debt owed to Crown and non-Crown issuing authorities.

My team spent considerable time with the Collections Unit, in its National Office, Contact Centre, Centralised Processing Unit and several District Collections Units. I thank the General Manager of the Collections Unit and her staff for their assistance and co-operation during this audit.


K B Brady
Controller and Auditor-General

15 July 2005

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