It doesn't add up


Those of you who are regular readers of this column, will be aware of the concerning issue of offenders dodging fines which have been handed out to them by the courts, often for serious crimes such as assault, drug possession, theft and vandalism.



Indeed, the most up-to-date figures show that in Greenock there are over 2,500 fines still to be paid up.



One of the reasons for this is that those employed by the Scottish Court Service lack the information to pursue offenders.



In a belated response to this problem the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, recently announced plans that will give Fines Enforcement Officers direct access to information held by the Department for Work and Pensions and other UK government departments.



This will include such information as offenders benefit details and their national insurance numbers.



While this recent development can be considered as progress, it certainly won’t solve the problem.



You can have access to all the information you like, but if you don’t have the resource to bring offenders to book, then little progress can be made.



And here is where the problem lies.



For the whole of Scotland there are a meagre 26 dedicated Fines Enforcement Officers. Square that with the 150,000 fines that are still to be paid across Scotland.



Effectively, Fines Enforcement Officers have 5,500 fines each to chase up.



How can we expect these officers to recover all these fines with the odds so clearly stacked against them.



150,000 fines divided 26 enforcement officers simply doesn’t add up.