The total value of fines issued at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in the first quarter of this year has plummeted by nearly £200,000 compared to the same period last year.
New figures published by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) show a stark contrast between figures for April, May and June this year, in comparison to the same quarter in 2019 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
When lockdown first hit at the end of March courts across the country all but shut down, with only essential business being heard.
The number of cases being heard has gradually increased since then, although sheriff and jury trials have still not resumed in Aberdeen.
The impact of the shutdown has been highlighted in the SCTS’s latest quarterly fines report.
The report shows the total value of fines imposed at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in quarter 1 of 2020/21 was just £39,000. The figure for the same period in 2019/20 was £228,000, and in 2018/19 it was £164,000.
Of the £39,000, £3,000 was discharged and, as of October 19, £16,000 had been paid, 45% of the total.
Figures for the first quarter of 2019/20 show £126,000 had been paid as of October 21 2019, 56% of the total. And for the first quarter of 2018/19 £95,000 (61%) had been paid as of October 22 2018.
According to the most recent figures, 25% of the total value of fines from the first quarter of this year were in arrears, compared to 9% and 11% in quarter 1 of 2019/20 and 2018/19 respectively.
Just 90 fines were handed out at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in the first quarter of this year, compared to 339 in quarter 1 of 2019/20, and 369 in 2018/19.
A spokesman for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service confirmed the significant differences in this year’s figures in comparison to previous years is down to the impact of the pandemic, and said the number of fines issued has increased as business levels have risen in courts across Scotland.
He said: “A fall in the number and value of fines imposed at Aberdeen Sheriff Court was inevitable as the majority of criminal court business did not proceed in this period due to the Covid lockdown that began in March.
“As business levels have risen with the majority of criminal courts having now restarted, the number of fines imposed has increased.”
At Peterhead Sheriff Court just £1,000 worth of fines were issued in the first quarter of this year, compared to £30,000 last year and £34,000 the year before that.
Two fines were imposed at Peterhead Sheriff Court in that time, with 78 in 2019/20, and 76 in 2018/19.