INDEPENDENT NEWS

Victims are receiving reparation payments

Published: Tue 20 Dec 2005 12:51 AM
20 December 2005
Victims are receiving reparation payments
Minister for Courts Rick Barker said today that collecting reparation for victims was a priority for the Ministry of Justice and in the last year over $13 million had been paid to victims.
“In the last four years the amount of reparation collected from offenders and paid out to victims has more than doubled, from $6.6 million in 2001/02 to $13.5 million in 2004/05.
“With the enactment of the Sentencing Act 2002 more reparation is being ordered by judges than ever before. A total of 18,362 cases involved reparation orders in 2004/05 compared to 14,593 cases in 2001/02. The Ministry is working hard to both collect and effectively disburse all monies received on behalf of victims.
“Often it is not as straightforward as an offender being ordered to pay reparation, making the payment and the payment being passed on to the victim. Offenders are regularly concurrently sentenced to a period of imprisonment and cannot begin paying their reparation until they are released.
“As time passes a victim may change their address and significant effort must be put into tracing the victim before any payment can be made. It is a matter of locating and positively identifying the victim before payment can be made.
“It is a practical decision to make arrangements with offenders to pay reparation and fines over time when they are unable to pay the amount in full immediately. In most cases the Court assesses the offender’s financial situation and ensures that the maximum amount available for payment is collected.
“The Ministry is committed to improving the collection and disbursement of reparation payments to victims. The Courts and Criminal Matters Bill currently before the House contains a number of measures to strengthen the processes around the collection of reparation and fines, and enable the interception of serious fines defaulters at international airports who try to leave the country without paying. Yet it was Mr Power was who filibustered to the extent the bill could not be passed in the house and must wait for a spot on the order paper.
“The collection of fines and reparation is a difficult job, with many New Zealanders believing that they can avoid payment of legally imposed fines. There is only one way to make a fine go away, and that is to pay.”
ENDS

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