A Case for Change

The Attorney-General's Department

A Case for Change

The whole community benefits if we have an effective and efficient criminal justice system that contributes to a reduction in crime. The criminal justice system must be people focussed and accountable to the community. Our vision is for a criminal justice system that is structured around its users, not its suppliers, that is modern and utilises modern technology and contemporary business practices, that ensures the best use is made of available resources and that the community receives value for every tax payer dollar spent.

Addressing delays and backlogs

In South Australia crime rates have been dropping. At the same time we find backlogs in our court system, with matters taking longer to resolve. 

We need to reduce the amount of time it takes for people arrested for a crime to come to trial. The backlogs in our court system mean victims and witnesses are waiting for extensive periods of time for their matters to be finalised, to have resolution.

Change is needed to improve outcomes for victims of crime and to meet community expectations for the timely dispensing of justice, without sacrificing the checks and balances aimed to protect the provision of substantive and procedural justice to defendants.

Unnecessary delays in the criminal justice system impact negatively on victims and witnesses. 
It is said that justice delayed is justice denied; the criminal justice system needs to address unnecessary delays to ensure that justice is done for victims of a crime, witnesses and for the community as a whole.
The Government is asking the profession to consider a culture of early response. This will inevitably involve a cultural change to ensure the modernisation of the system.

Each time a person pleads guilty on the first day of their trial, police, forensic, court and prosecution resources may have been wasted if that guilty plea could have been achieved earlier. The Major Indictable Matters Reform was the first step to save time and resources across the sector. 

Victims of crime and the community are entitled to expect a criminal justice system that ensures offenders are dealt with swiftly, that people who break the law face appropriate consequences and that victims of crime are treated with respect and sensitivity. Information about the progress of a matter should be readily available to victims and witnesses.

Flexible sentencing and rehabilitation 

Offenders must be punished and held to account for their actions. Our criminal justice system must provide the judiciary with appropriate options and flexibility in sentencing.

To enhance community protection we need to reduce rates of crime and the rate at which people offend and re-offend. Once sentenced, we need to ensure that offenders are appropriately managed, either in the community or in prison, to facilitate rehabilitation and reintegration into the community. We need to continue to explore ideas to improve the effectiveness of rehabilitation and reintegration services so that communities continue to become safer.

Resource usage and technology

The community is entitled to expect that the criminal justice system does not waste resources and should receive value for money spent on the system.

We know that across the criminal justice sector, the same piece of information, the same data, is entered into separate systems by different individuals. Information is captured in each silo and work is duplicated. The Government intends to eliminate this duplication.

The criminal justice system needs to enter the digital age, reduce and remove reliance on paper and embrace technology to create faster systems so more can be done with the information we have. We need to take a holistic view of justice information and implement automated efficient systems.

Technology must also be embraced within the courtroom setting, for example, enhancing and encouraging the use of audio visual technology for party and prisoner appearances.

Persons accused of a crime are entitled to a fair trial and entitled to expect that their matters are dealt with efficiently. By capturing and having access to information on an individual matter as they travel along the continuum of the criminal justice system, performance of elements of the system can be tracked and issues for progress identified and tackled.

Governance and transparency

In South Australia there is currently no single agency with responsibility for the governance of the criminal justice sector as a whole. Whilst AGD has taken a lead role in supporting the Minister for Justice Reform and the Council, leadership is vital for reform to be successful, to promote the cultural change required and the necessity of a new approach. Governance of the criminal justice sector should be re-considered.

The criminal justice system serves the community and justice must be seen to be done to be truly done; the current criminal justice system is just not transparent enough.

The community cannot easily access information about the performance of the criminal justice system. There should be transparency, leading to enhanced community understanding and greater accountability to the community for performance of the criminal justice sector.

We want to use technology to create transparency for victims of crime who deserve accurate, timely up to date information about the progress of an investigation and prosecution.

To achieve change, bold and brave choices will have to be made. Resources will need to be fully utilised and the quality and efficiency of existing resources understood. The criminal justice sector is not immune to cost savings requirements of Government agencies. All elements of the sector need to demonstrate value for money. No part of the system will be immune from change. The criminal justice system will be viewed and re-considered as a whole. Any reform of the criminal justice sector will need to demonstrate tangible improvements for victims and the community and we need to ensure that success can be readily and easily demonstrated.


Last updated: 
Thursday, 16 June 2016
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