OVER a fifth of fines issued by Scottish courts ends up becoming an arrest warrant because offenders fail to pay their fines.
New figures from the Scottish Court Service show 38,110 arrest warrants were issued last year which makes up 22% of the 175,740 fines imposed.
Over 80,000 citations were also issued to offenders who failed to pay their fines to the courts.
Duncan McNeil, Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said the changes introduced in 2008 to improve collection and enforcement had failed to achieve their objective.
He said: “It is often fair to victims, because many fines are going unpaid for lengthy periods of time and it is not effective in deterring and punishing offenders, as reconviction rates for those who have received fines has remained relatively static and indeed may actually be higher.
“There is significant churn in the system whereby an offender received a warning letter, he ignores it, his payment terms are varied, he still doesn’t pay, he’s cited to court, he doesn’t turn up and a warrant is issued for his arrest.
“He then comes to court to agree to pay the fine, he goes away, ignores his fine and another warrant is sent out.”
David Sinclair, from Victim Support Scotland, said that victims will feel justice has not been served if offenders avoid paying their fines.
He said: “It is very important, I think, that in a transparent justice system it is demonstrated to victims of crime that when perpetrators are dealt with in the court system, they are being made to carry out their punishment.”
The Scottish Court Service said the latest figures from the Freedom of Information Request showed that collection rates from across the country were continuing to improve.
£1 million has already been recovered through benefit deductions over the past six months.