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Evaluation of Reforms to Fines Enforcement

Published: November 2011

Aim

Recent reforms to the enforcement of criminal financial penalties in Scotland have seen the enforcement of fines transfered to the Scottish Court Service and the creation of a new post – the Fines Enforcement Officer.

This evaluation assessed the extent to which these changes met their policy objectives and contributed to the overarching objective – a summary justice system that is fair, efficient, effective and quick and simple in delivery.

Findings 

  • Fine default is significantly more likely to be detected and acted upon following the reforms. 
  • For the successful application of other sanctions Fine Enforcement Officers require accurate information on defaulters.
  • Fixed Penalty Notices for Anti-Social Behaviour lack additional information on perpetrators for Fines Enforcement Officers to use which may explain why enforcement action is more limited, and also why Fines Enforcement Court citation is more likely for these fines.
  • It appears unlikely that there has been much, if any, reduction in court involvement in fines enforcement at this stage.

Method

We used quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the practice and operation of enforcement procedure. Towards the end of the research we convened a national seminar for criminal justice actors to discuss the emerging findings and suggest ways of further improving the current system.