Alice Supreme Court matters up by 40% in 2013/14

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Crime in Alice decreasing? Not at the serious end of the spectrum it would seem. Chief Justice Trevor Riley said today that criminal lodgements (formal accusations) in the Alice Springs registry of the Supreme Court are expected to be up by 40% in 2013/2014 compared to the previous reporting year.
 
“You need to stop and think about that,” he said, “an increase of 40% in criminal lodgements in one year.”
 
He made his remarks at the Law Society Opening of the Legal Year luncheon at the Convention Centre in Darwin. In the light of such an increase, he said the announcement of a new court building for Alice Springs “comes not a moment too soon”.
 
The Chief Justice also sees Federal Government cuts to funding of legal aid bodies throughout Australia as “a major issue likely to be of concern in 2014”.
 
He said services like the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service and the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission “are vital to the effective delivery of justice in Australia and, particularly, in the Northern Territory” and cuts are “likely to be a false economy”:
 
“If such bodies suffer funding cuts that reduce their capacity to assist people before the courts then the delivery of justice will be impaired. Such funding is likely to be a false economy in that the costs attached to other parts of the justice system will increase. Unrepresented litigants or under-represented litigants will provide significant cost increases to the courts, the prosecution authorities and, regrettably, the prisons.”
 
He made similar observations on the need for the NT Government to appropriately fund the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions:
 
“The annual report of the Director refers to the difficulties he is experiencing in providing an appropriate service to the community and, at the same time, meeting the financial constraints imposed upon his office. Senior appointments within the office have been delayed as a consequence of those constraints.
 
“A failure to provide adequate resources to the DPP will have a significant impact upon the delivery of justice in the Northern Territory. It is necessarily an office independent of government but nevertheless must be appropriately supported by government in order to function as it should for the benefit of all.”

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