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Disturbing number of court cases on hold

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

15 November 2007

Disturbing number of court cases on hold

The justice system is coming under increasing pressure as new figures show a disturbing number of cases on hold because defendants have absconded while on bail or have simply failed to appear, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is releasing information which shows that at September 30 there were 18,682 cases in the country’s 63 district courts that were on hold due to outstanding warrants against all of the defendants’.

The cases involve criminal summary, Youth Court, and deposition cases, as well as jury trials. The highest figures are in Auckland (3,795 cases on hold), Manukau (3,157), Waitakere (1,234), Hamilton (1,057), Christchurch (912), North Shore (845), Wellington (725), Tauranga (633), Rotorua (542), Lower Hutt (495), Whangarei (466), Papakura (376), Gisborne (307), Hastings (306), Napier (285), and Kaikohe (281).

“And that’s just the number of cases that are on hold.

“These figures are a further sign that the justice sector is appallingly managed. As well as the number of cases on hold, there is also an alarming log-jam of cases in both the High Court and in district courts.

“At March there were 241 criminal jury trials outstanding in the High Court and 1,437 in district courts, while the median trial waiting time in the High Court was 290 days and in district courts 256 days. And there have been 20 stays of prosecution in the past three years.

“And there could be worse to come. Since Labour became Government there has already been a 151% increase in the number of defendants failing to report for bail, and their loose new bail laws are making it even easier for more offenders than ever to get bail.

“Labour’s failure to get on top of the problem puts all sorts of unnecessary pressure on the justice system.

“It wastes the time of the courts and of the police, and it leaves victims of crime up in the air as they wait for justice – and all that gets in the way of ensuring justice is done in a timely manner.

“Rick Barker should tell us how he is going to fix this.”

View the answer to parliamentary questions as a pdf.

ENDS

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