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Labour must address court waiting times problem

Labour must address court waiting times problem

The Government needs to deal urgently with rapidly worsening waiting times for criminal trials, says National's Justice spokesman, Simon Power.

"The Minister keeps claiming he is dealing with this problem - but it's getting worse, not better."

Latest figures show the average wait for a trial from committal to scheduled trial date is 283 days in the district court and 305 days in the High Court.

"Labour's courts are in disarray, despite what Courts Minister Rick Barker claims.

"They are not making sure justice is being served in a timely manner.

"The longer the waiting list for trials, the longer that victims have to wait for justice.

“It’s very disturbing the hear police say victims are asking for trials to be dropped because, after waiting for two years, they just don’t want to keep living with it any longer – they just want to get on with their lives.

“Just as disturbing is the fact that some defendants are walking away without trial because they are not being tried in a timely manner.

"In the first nine months of 2006/07 there were nine stays of prosecution - including charges such as wounding with intent, assault with intent to injure, and male assaults female - because people weren't tried on time.

“The courts are a mess.

“I recently issued figures showing that at September 30 last year there were 18,683 district court cases on hold because defendants had absconded while on bail or simply failed to appear

“And, at the latest count there were 241 criminal jury trials outstanding in the High Court and 1,437 in district courts.

“All these figures are a further sign that the justice sector is being appallingly managed.

"The Labour Government must tell the public how it will address these urgent matters of public safety."


ends

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