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Settle Disputes Out of Court - Robson

News release

Involving the community – Courts briefing paper released

18th January 20000

New Minister for Courts, Matt Robson intends to develop and build on existing initiatives to encourage people to settle disputes through mediation and other processes outside of the Courts system.

He was responding to Department of Courts briefing papers released today.

“ We want to increase community involvement in its own crime prevention and safety.

“The Department is anticipating an increased use of Alternative Disputes Resolutions, which is great news. Going through Court is costly, a lengthy process and not always the best way to resolve an issue,” said Matt Robson.

“More use of mediation can be encouraged in all sorts of areas, including the environment court, and in general civil cases.

“A pilot scheme started last year to use Community Magistrates is another positive step towards involving a wider range of people from the community. It will also take a load off the District Court judges, who can now concentrate on more complex cases.”

Community magistrates have been operating in four Waikato Courts since February last year. Their jurisdiction includes some cases that only judges could previously deal with.

“We want to encourage alternatives to prison sentences for some non-violent crimes. Two adult pre-trial diversion schemes involving community panels have been piloted in Timaru and Henderson with great success. Victims feel more involved, and so does the community. Re-offending rates have also been reduced.

“These sorts of schemes where successful, take pressure off our prisons and our courts. Prisons must always be seen as a last resort for violent and recidivist offenders. If we can get young offenders, or those committing relatively minor offences early, teach them a lesson they’ll never forget and make them listen to victims, then we start to hit crime where it matters,” says Matt Robson.

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