From today, a new high-tech dual camera unit will scan thousands of number plates outside shopping centres, train station car parks and on main streets in a bid to nab Western Australia’s worst fine and infringement defaulters.
The mobile licence plate recognition camera, which will be mounted on the top of a Sheriff’s office vehicle, is the latest tool in a range of measures to target hardcore fine defaulters.
In August 2013, the State Government introduced wheel-clamping, the removal of vehicle number plates, the seizure of vehicles and property and ‘naming and shaming’ on the Department of the Attorney General’s website.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said between August 2013 and August 2014, the Fines Enforcement Registry (FER) had recovered $97.9 million in unpaid fines, which was $14.2 million more than the same period in the previous year when $83.7 million was collected.
Mr Mischin said he hoped the new camera would assist the Sheriff in detecting vehicles belonging to defaulters who had warrants issued against them for not paying their fines or infringements.
“In the past year, 505 wheel clamps have been applied, 420 sets of licence plates have been removed, 60 warning stickers have been applied to vehicles, 5,142 calling cards have been left and 3,650 new payment arrangements have been entered into,” the Attorney General said.
“I expect these figures to increase with the introduction of the new camera, which will be able to scan a high volume of vehicles that would potentially go undetected because defaulters often deliberately avoid parking their vehicles on their own property or have outdated addresses.
“Our overall aim is to reclaim millions of dollars from this small group of fine dodgers, who repeatedly flout the law yet expect hardworking WA taxpayers to foot the bill.”
The total amount of money currently outstanding is $306 million, comprising $170 million in court fines and $136 million in infringements. Approximately $81 million is being managed on time to pay arrangements.
The total amount of fines currently owing cannot be easily compared with previous years, because it includes several large one-off debts which have inflated the total amount of money outstanding, including a new warrant fee on infringements, a rise in registration fees, increases in penalties for various offences, clearance of old court fines and State election fines for those who did not vote.