Friday 20 July 2018
Preliminary results show new payment option leads to substantial increase in payment rate and reduction in number of cases proceeding to court
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, have welcomed the improved operation of the Garda Fixed Charge Processing System captured in the publication today of the Criminal Justice (Fixed Charge Processing System) Working Group’s 2017 progress report on the implementation of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate report, ‘The Fixed Charge Processing System. A 21st Century Strategy’.
The introduction of a third payment option on 1 June 2017 was the key achievement over the course of the year. Since its introduction, preliminary figures as at 13 July 2018 indicate that the payment rate for people issued with third payment option Fixed Charge Notices (FCNs) since late October 2017 stands at 35%, resulting in 6,759 cases not proceeding to court and being disposed of by way of FCN.
Minister Flanagan said: “I welcome the introduction of the third payment option and acknowledge the significant amount of inter-agency work which went into ensuring it went live on 1 June 2017. While still in its early stages, the results so far are encouraging and I hope that it will have a significant impact on disposing of such matters outside of the Court system into the future”.
Minister Ross added: “I very much welcome the reduction in road traffic cases coming before the Courts as a result of the introduction of the third payment option in June 2017. Apart from the legislative provisions, the project required the delivery of a complex technical solution entailing the interaction of two totally different systems – An Garda Síochána’s Fixed Charge Notice System and the Courts Service’s summonses issuing system. To facilitate implementation my Department provided 70% of the funding for this technical solution, and I would like to congratulate the inter-agency group which oversaw both the technical solution and legislative changes required. This will mean the courts will now have more available time to deal with other serious road traffic offences.”
Prior to the rollout of the third payment option, a person served with a Fixed Charge Notice was afforded two payment options before a summons was issued – (a) the first payment period of 28 days, during which the person could pay the fixed charge amount, followed by (b) a second payment period of 28 days, during which the person could pay the fixed charge amount plus 50%. A person who did not pay the appropriate Fixed Charge Notice amount within 56 days was served with a summons to attend Court.
In order to improve the payment rate and reduce the volume of road traffic offences proceeding to Court, a third payment option was provided for through the commencement of Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, as amended, by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on 1 June 2017. As a result of this change, a second Fixed Charge Notice is issued to a person served with a summons which allows them to pay a fixed charge 100% greater than the original fixed charge, not later than 7 days before the date of the Court on which the charge is to be heard. If a person takes up this new third payment option, proceedings in respect of the alleged offence are discontinued, the case does not come before a Judge, and the person need not attend court.
The Working Group held its first meeting on 18 March 2014 and has met on over 30 occasions since its inaugural meeting. The Working Group is jointly chaired by the Departments of Justice & Equality and Transport, Tourism & Sport and comprises representatives from An Garda Síochána; the Courts Service; the Road Safety Authority; the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; the Revenue Commissioners; the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government; and the Office of the Attorney General.
The 2017 report provides a further update on the status of each of the recommendations contained in the Inspectorate’s 2014 FCPS report. 22 of the 37 recommendations were fully implemented and 3 additional recommendations were concluded by the Working Group by the end of 2017. 2 further recommendations have been partially implemented, and long-term aspects of these recommendations are now being progressed. Work on the remaining recommendations is ongoing, the majority of which are medium to long-term in nature.
The report can be accessed here.