£2bn in fines and criminal assets unpaid

Almost £2bn is owed in unpaid court fines and confiscation orders, figures show.

Officials chasing criminal assets and other confiscated items worth £1.3bn expect at least £750m of this never to be paid because they are either abroad or too well-hidden, a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee said.

Some £600m is also owed in unpaid fines, despite a further £50m being written off in 2010-11 as officials deemed there was little prospect of it ever being paid.

Margaret Hodge, the committee's chairman, warned that the Ministry of Justice was not making enough progress in getting the money it is owed.

"It has increased the amount of money collected through fines but this is being outpaced by the growth in fines outstanding," she said. "And the ministry acknowledges that 60 per cent of the money outstanding under confiscation orders may never be recovered."

The value of outstanding confiscation orders has more than doubled from just over £500m in 2006-07 to £1.25bn in 2010-11 and £1.3bn by the middle of 2011-12.