Palma City Council only collecting part of some fines. archive photo. | Ultima Hora

Palma City Council only collects part of the fines that are imposed for general infractions, according to Palma Citizen's Ombudsman, Anna Moilanen.

“One of the reasons is the insolvency of many of the people sanctioned, but it is also due to the inability of the Local Administration to process these sanctions," she adds.

Fines that are sometimes not collected include those imposed for the type of behaviour that most annoys the general public, such as abandoning junk in the street or leaving rubbish outside containers, not collecting dog poop, excessive noise, drinking alcohol in the street, illegal street vending and graffiti.

These actions violate various Municipal Ordinances, including one of the most important, the Ordinance regulating the Civic Use of Public Spaces or ORUCEP.

Moilanen says the Administration has difficulties processing all these fines, especially with regard to the coordination of procedures between the departments involved.

"It does not mean that they are not processed, it’s done, but they often take a long time to arrive," said Moilanen who believes that offenders are unlikely to change their behaviour if they get caught, then don’t have to pay the entire fine.

"A feeling of impunity grows amongst offenders at the same time as the indignation of the other party increases,” she says. “Sometimes people think that by rejecting the notification of a sanction or by not collecting it, they can get rid of it, but all they will do is lose time and the right to claim if the period is already up.”

Another problem that arises in relation to fines “are the cases in which the sanctioned person finds out about the penalty when it's already been seized from their bank account,” she explains. “Sometimes we deal with cases where the Administration has imposed a fine on the wrong person and it’s already been collected by the Government.”

Moilanan argues that, in general, “fines should be a teaching tool and not a means of collection, which is the impression given by certain sanctions, such as traffic violations or illegal drinking which are for huge amounts with no means of collection,” and that "fines with interest for late payment penalties can add up to significant amounts of money which undoubtedly impact the family economy."