Prime Minister of Tasmania – Delivering a more effective and efficient justice system

January 28, 2022

Elise Archer, Attorney General

The latest Government Services Annual Report shows that Tasmania’s justice and corrections sectors have continued to improve in key areas.

The report shows that for the 2020-21 reporting period the average daily prison population fell by 3.6% and Tasmania’s imprisonment rate of 149.2 per 100,000 adults was the third lowest of any Australian jurisdictions.

Additionally, our imprisonment rate for Indigenous Tasmanians and the ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous imprisonment rates are the lowest of the eight jurisdictions.

Tasmania’s prison utilization rate of 89.4% was also the lowest of the five jurisdictions that report on this indicator.

And Tasmania’s proportion of community orders classified as successfully completed was the second highest of any jurisdiction.

This year’s data also showed improvements in time spent out of cells, as well as the number of inmates engaged in education and employment, which continues to be one of my main goals as Minister of Correctional Services.

While these results are promising, as I have said before, I recognize that much more needs to be done and I am committed to doing so.

The Tasmanian Prison Service (TPS) continues its strong recruitment drive, allowing for greater focus on rehabilitation programmes, education and other positive activities for offenders.

We are also continuing to build modern facilities with $94.34 million invested in the Southern Remand Center due to open this year, which will further help TPS achieve positive results.

With regard to the courts, the Magistrates Court recorded a 7% decrease in criminal filings compared to the previous year and a 10% increase in criminal finalizations over the same period. This resulted in a 15% reduction in the number of pending criminal cases during this period.

Although the data from the Supreme Court is not as positive, it is important to note that many other jurisdictions apply a three tier court model, whereas in Tasmania the Supreme Court deals with cases that are split between two courts in other jurisdictions.

Our government recognizes the strain on the courts, exacerbated by COVID-19. In direct response to this, a seventh judge has been appointed in 2021 and an additional magistrate in 2020 with another additional magistrate starting in 2022. This will bring the number of permanent magistrates to 17 – the most the Court has ever had. It will also provide an equal number of magistrates between the south and the north/northwest of the state, and allow the Court to process cases more quickly, while clearing up any backlog of criminal cases.

further the Miscellaneous Aspects of Justice (Backlogs and Related Matters) Act 2020, which began in July 2021, contains various provisions aimed at reducing the backlog before the Supreme Court.

the Magistrates Court (Criminal and General Division) Act 2019 should also increase the efficiency of the Magistrates Court when it begins later this year.

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