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Privacy for agencies

Annual report

: To improve the enforcement of fines by identifying serious fines defaulters as they cross New Zealand borders, and to increase voluntary compliance through publicity about the programme targeted at travellers.

Justice disclosure to Customs: Justice provides serious fine defaulter information for inclusion on Customs' ‘'silent alerts' or '‘interception alerts' lists.

Customs disclosure to Justice: For each alert triggered, Customs supplies the full name, date of birth, gender, nationality and presented passport number, along with details about the intended or just completed travel. 

Compliance: Compliant.

Technical information 

Information matching provision Customs and Excise Act 1996, s.280D
Year authorised 2006
Year commenced 2006
Programme type Locating people
Unique identifiers Personal profile number
Passport number
Online transfers Yes

System description

Each day, Justice sends Customs, by encrypted online transfer, details of serious fines defaulters for the purpose of creating 'interception alerts' or 'silent alerts'[1] in the Customs system (CusMod). The most serious cases attract an 'interception alert', which results in the traveller being intercepted at the airport and required to pay (or make an arrangement to pay) their fine or reparation or face arrest. The other cases involve a 'silent alert' which uses information about the traveller for enforcement action after their entry or (re-entry) to the country.

Fines defaulters who have interception alerts recorded in CusMod are those where: 

  • Either
    • any amount of reparation is owing and
    • a warrant to arrest has been issued and
    • the warrant covers at least part of the reparation outstanding;
  • Or
    • court imposed fines greater or equal to $5,000 are outstanding and
    • a warrant to arrest has been issued and
    • the warrant covers at least part of these court imposed fines. 

Silent alerts are created for fines defaulters not subject to an interception alert but meeting the following criteria:

  • fines equal to or greater than $1,000 are outstanding and
  • a warrant to arrest has been issued and
  • the warrant covers at least part of these outstanding fines.

For each fines defaulter, Justice supply Customs with the following information: 

Person profile number Family name Given names
Date of birth Gender Alert type

As an individual passes through the border, a Customs official scans their passport into the CusMod system. The CusMod matching programme converts details from the passport into an alpha-numeric code for matching against alerts. Alerts are generated for 'A' matches, which require a 91-100% match outcome based on a weighting system. For instance, date of birth and family name each has a percentage attributed to it which add up to 75% towards the overall weighting score.

Matches triggering an interception alert are directed to a Customs official who notifies NZ Police. A police officer conducts an interview with the individual to confirm their identity and that the individual is the same person as the alert, whether outstanding fines exist, and if a warrant to arrest remains in force.

Fines and warrant to arrest information is obtained by phoning the Justice Contact Centre. If the Police are satisfied that the individual is not the person on the alert, they are left to continue on their journey and a report is filed.

If the facts are verified, the individual, through a phone call with a Justice official, is given an opportunity to pay the outstanding amount or to enter into an arrangement to pay. If no payment is made, or arrangement entered into, the Police have discretion to execute the arrest warrant, in which case the individual will be stopped from travelling and brought before a court.

After an interception, the alert is usually removed from CusMod in the next daily update.

Silent alert information is not displayed to Customs staff but is notified electronically to Justice for potential use in the related INZ/Justice Fines Defaulters Tracing Programme. Silent alerts do not result in individuals having their travel interrupted. 

Recent activity

Customs/Justice Interception Alerts Results 

  2011/12  2012/13  2013/14  2014/15 2015/16
Silent alerts triggered 5,111 6,167 5,519 6,283 6,907
Individuals subject to silent alerts 2,394 2,916 3,175 3,182 3,507
Intercept alerts triggered 175 201 159 200 199
People intercepted[2] 149 171 132 120 128
On departure 50 59 94 40 37
On arrival 119 135 38 80 91
Incorrect intercepts 23 6 13 19 11
Fines had already been paid 6 6 12 18 10
Wrong person identified by the match 17 0 1 1 1
Interception not completed 16 17 14 61 85
Fines received $110,546 $47,990 $25,610 $45,066 $22,792
Reparation received $155,061 $81,435 $86,793 $89,548 $78,020
Amount under a current time-to-pay
$121,680 $135,641 $182,971 $111,395 $207,103
Remittals/Alternative sentence imposed $85,703 $140,682 $79,490 $67,362 $140,789

As at 30 June 2016, there were 4,348 fines defaulters who had interception alerts recorded against their names in Customs records.  There were also 20,860 fines defaulters who had silent alerts recorded.

[1] Silent alert notifications are sent to Justice for use in the INZ/Justice Fines Defaulters Tracing Programme.
[2] The number of alerts on arrival or departure will not necessarily equal the total number of people intercepted as a person can trigger multiple alerts in a given period.