Fine dodgers have amassed 26,889 unpaid fines at a cost of €21.4m, but the police are hoping that their recently appointed fine collecting unit will get the situation under control, it emerged on Tuesday.
Many have reportedly been caught while crossing to the north, some of whom claimed to be unable to pay the fines but were found to be gambling at casinos. Others were located at betting shops.
During the past year, the police were handed 36,728 warrants to execute – most of which stemmed from unpaid traffic fines or social security debts which snowballed from fines into warrants.
The situation is understood to have improved since the justice ministry appointed senior police officer Andreas Angelides to oversee the execution of the outstanding warrants.
Since being appointed in late October 2021, the state has secured just over €11m from such unpaid fines, about a million euros more than during the previous period.
The police are attempting to scale the mountain of unpaid fines by carrying out more targeted checks by going after people who can pay, rather than those listed as unemployed or bankrupt.
That appears to be having some success, with 1,770 warrants executed within a week and €285,000 collected, according to Phileleftheros.
December 6 proved particularly successful as police tracked down 506 people linked to the warrants and collected €130,000. That was made possible by focusing on crossings to the north and betting shops.
Even so, the 27,000 warrants are proving a challenge as many resort to trickery to try and continue dodging them, while others are truly facing economic hardship. For the latter group, police may extend the period or allow them to pay the fine in instalments.
Back in June 2021 the authorities drafted guidelines for police officers seeking arrest and search warrants in court in a bid to avoid them being thrown out because of gaps and technicalities.
The decision to draft guidelines was made after the supreme court cancelled several in separate cases.
A joint working group made up of state attorneys and police officers reviewed procedures and came up with guidelines for investigators to follow when applying in a bid to avoid mistakes or omissions.
Officers reportedly often just copied previous warrants and just changed the names, dates, and reasons.