AG says State failing to execute warrants on delinquent motorists
Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
The Government failed to collect almost $5 million in traffic fines imposed last year even as it embarked on a drive to rake in money outstanding for years.
Last year, the State collected $340 million during a six-month amnesty for tickets issued before September 21, 2010.
But in her latest report to Parliament, Auditor General Pamela Munroe Ellis noted that the system of collecting traffic fines based on warrants issued by the courts was woefully inadequate.
"We found that of 296 warrants that were sent to the bailiff's office during the calendar year 2011, amounting to $6.9 million, only 92 warrants valuing $2.1 million were executed," said Monroe Ellis.
"Therefore, 204 warrants totalling $4.8 million were still outstanding," added Monroe Ellis.
The auditor general warned that failure to execute warrants and carry out the orders of the courts could result in the guilty going unpunished.
"The Ministry (of National Security) was again advised to institute appropriate corrective measures to reduce the present backlog."
In addition to the problem of executing warrants, Monroe Ellis expressed concern about the system of storing warrants at the bailiff's office, which she described as inadequate.
"The warrants were stored in boxes in no sequential order. The absence of proper storage facilities at the bailiff's office will make it difficult to properly manage the execution of these warrants," noted Monroe Ellis.
Late last year, as motorists rushed to take advantage of the six-month amnesty, head of the Police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, urged persons who had accumulated excess tickets that were issued outside of the amnesty period to pay up or face the full force of the law.
At that time, a tough-talking Lewis warned that, "those persons who have outstanding tickets from September 21 (2010) until now are going to be arrested same way, just like those persons who are on the amnesty and refuse to pay".
According to Lewis, at the start of the amnesty, a decision was made to refrain from arresting motorists caught with excess tickets.
He warned that the "holiday period" was over for those outside of the amnesty.
"The only reason why we suspended arrest for those persons was that we didn't want any mix-up with the persons on amnesty. We made sure that we suspended (arresting) anybody for warrants and tickets," said Lewis.
But with Monroe-Ellis now charging that the process of executing warrants is flawed the threat from Lewis will be more bark than bite if changes are not made.