Tele: On-the-spot fines ‘don’t work’ as state chases $29k in unpaid penalties

Dozens of drug users given a second chance with on-the-spot fines have refused to pay up, with 10 fines remaining unpaid among the first of the penalties dished out two years ago.

As the NSW government considers extending the controversial Criminal Infringement Notices to give drug users another two chances before they are criminally charged, The Daily Telegraph can reveal that at least 72 people have ignored the 60-day rule to pay their $400 fines.

From January 2019 when the CINs were introduced, figures from Revenue NSW show that 797 had been issued up to April last year, most of them at the height of the music festival season in January 2020 when 150 were issued for ecstasy alone. Of the total of $318,800 in fines issued, $28,803 remains unpaid.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Tony Wood, whose daughter died after taking an ecstasy tablet in 1995, said yesterday.

“They have enough money to buy the drugs, they should be made to pay the fine.”

Mr Wood, whose daughter Anna was 15 when she took the tablet at a rave party, has used her death to campaign against illicit drug use.

He said drug users needed the “wake-up call” of going to court to stop them using drugs.

“Most young people who have died at music festivals were first-time users and these CINs do not discourage drug use,” Mr Wood said.

The CINs are issued for possessing small quantities of drugs including no more than 1g of ecstasy, 1g of cocaine, 1g of heroin and 2.5g of Ketamine, an anaesthetic used by vets.

An overdue fine attracts an extra $65 penalty and Revenue NSW said it now had to resort to other ways of recouping the money, from suspending driving licences and car registrations to seizing goods.

The legislation allowing police to issue CINs began in January 2019 in the wake of a series of music festivals deaths. They have the support of NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller with the aim of harm reduction and diverting offenders from the criminal justice system.

Mr Wood said yesterday that the new figures showed fines alone did not work.

Finance Minister Damien Tudehope yesterday said: “Ignoring a CIN or refusing to pay is simply not an option.”

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