My question, to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, follows last week’s release of the latest ABS ‘Prisoners in Australia’ data.
Those figures show that – during 2020 – there has been an almost 12% plunge in the number of people in Victorian jails. By contrast, the same figure nationally and in New South Wales is 5%; in Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, less than 0.04%; and in South Australia, there has actually been an increase.
Mr Grimley and I have consistently said that this very significant drop in Victoria would be a likely outcome from the long COVID-related deferral and termination of many cases, growing court delays, and relaxed bail arrangements for many criminals.
Minister: does the Government agree with our view about what has now happened, or does it have an alternative explanation for these remarkable figures?
Minister: as I noted in my previous question, the long period of COVID lockdowns has spawned even more delays in the hearing of cases, and therefore the administration of justice, across the Victorian court system.
It is my understanding that there have been major blowouts particularly in:
- the median times between arrest and case finalisation for defended cases; and
- the median times between committals for, and the outcomes of, trials.
As my supplementary question, I therefore ask the following. When will the Government be following the lead of a number of other jurisdictions (like New South Wales, Tasmania and the UK, for instance) and actively implementing policy changes to urgently reduce court delays?