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Question

166. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of committals for non-payment of fines in each of the years 2013 to 2016 to date; and the mechanism she is using to monitor the implementation of the Fines Act 2014. [12694/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I wish to inform the Deputy that the number of committals to prison for non-payment of a court order fine for each of the years requested is set out in the following table. It can be noted that the figure for committals in 2016 relates to fines imposed prior to the commencement of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014.

Year Number of Committals for non-payment of Fines
2016 (up to and including the 31st March) 2,325
2015 9,883
2014 8,979
2013 8,121

The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 was commenced on 11 January 2016. The new approach to the payment of fines means that various provisions including payment by instalment and attachment of earnings will take effect in stages during 2016. The sequencing of the different payment options indicates that it will be a full year before a clear picture emerges as to the operation and effect of the new system, the impact it has on the volume of court business as well as on the roles of other agencies including the Probation Service.
While the Courts Service is compiling statistics, there is limited data available at this early stage; the figures do however indicate that the take up of the option to pay a fine by instalments is working well and continues to rise. My Department is represented on the Courts Service Fines Act Implementation Group and we will continue to work with the group to ensure effective monitoring of the new payments system. In addition, my Department is currently in contact with the Probation Service and the Sheriff's Association to address their roles in relation to Community Service and fine recovery aspects of the system respectively.