Unpaid fines pile up in Bermuda

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — Unpaid fines reached almost US$2.4 million last year after thousands of criminal and traffic warrants remained in force, according to a new report released here.

The total owed has risen by an estimated US$300,000 over two years although judicial authorities said agencies worked together to find people wanted by the courts, and the number of outstanding warrants has gone up by more than 2,500 since 2014.

The figures were revealed in the Judicial Department's annual report, which noted that 'for five consecutive years, the total number of outstanding warrants has steadily increased.

“In 2018, there were 11,684 outstanding warrants within the Magistrates' Court, which is an increase over the 2017 figure.

“The total amount of unpaid fines that have accrued as a result of warrants not being executed has escalated to $2,395,312.32 as at December 31, 2018. Inter-agency collaboration has been beneficial for the execution of warrants.

“Magistrates have made payment orders so that offenders could pay their fines over a reasonable period of time, thereby removing the possibility of incarcerating them for default,” the report concluded.

Figures in the report showed that the number of outstanding warrants increased from 9,178 in 2014 to 10,923 in 2017.

A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said officers were asked to find and detain people wanted on warrants on a regular basis.

“When police officers come into contact with members of the public, it is normal practice for them to check to ascertain if there are any outstanding warrants which have been issued by the courts for the arrest of that person.

“On a regular basis, officers are tasked to engage with persons who are wanted on warrant and when located, these individuals are detained in accordance with the instructions contained within the warrant,” the spokesman said.

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