A fine mess: flawed IT system wreaking havoc for the Vic government

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday October 25, 2019

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Outstanding fines from more than 120,000 people could earn Victoria somewhere between $328 million and $700 million in revenue, if only it could access them.

The income was originally recorded for the 2018-2019 financial year, but has been reclassified as “doubtful debts”.

An error in the Victorian infringements enforcement warrant (VIEW) system has left a large pile of fines sitting untouched.

A Department of Justice and Community Safety spokesperson has said that the system has failed to work with the court fines system, meaning that many people have been left unaware of their infringements.

“Due to some complexity of merging data from the courts into the Fines Victoria system, Victorians who have not paid their court fines at the court or at a Justice Centre have not yet received a reminder notice,” the spokesperson told iTnews.

In some cases, Victorians have only found out about their fines through demand notices.

VIEW was purchased from British company Civica in a $103 million contract as a replacement of the state’s legacy infringement and warrant system. The software has been described as “death by a thousand clicks”.

Ombudsperson Deborah Glass reported in April that she had received 605 complaints about Fines Victoria during 2018. This was a 74% increase on the number of complaints received about the agency which Fines Victoria replaced in 2017, Civic Compliance Victoria. Fines Victoria had told Glass the software would be running properly by June this year.

READ MORE: Wrongful fines and licence suspensions: Fines Victoria creating anxiety and frustration, says Ombudsperson

The unpaid fines have impacted magistrates County Court officials and councils, with one council having been set back $21.8 million.

“We remain extremely frustrated with the delay as, if this money had been available to us, we would have spread it across a range of planned services and projects to improve outcomes for our community,” Port Phillip mayor Dick Gross said.

Attorney-General Jill Hennessy told the Victorian Parliament last week that Fines Victoria has improved “each and every single week”. 

“There indeed have been challenges, and I have not in any way, shape or form sought to retreat from the nature of those challenges,” she said.

“We continue to have really significant improvements in their performance, and we continue to work to ensure that we have got a functioning fines system here in Victoria.

“Just by way of some insight to that, we have had over four operations clearing more than $97,000 of debt, we have had 250,000 people engage with the Fines Victoria website and there was $8.39 million in fines being taken through Fines Victoria in the week ending 4 October.”

The government has commissioned a review into the agency, which will completed “shortly”, according to Deputy Premier James Merlino.

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