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So there ARE problems in the courts system

Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Associate Justice Spokeswoman

26 May 2008

So there ARE problems in the courts system

The Labour Government’s desperate injection of $6.3 million to address the pressure on Auckland courts has scotched Labour’s previous claim that the system is improving, says National’s Associate Justice spokeswoman, Kate Wilkinson.

“Less than a month ago, Courts Minister Rick Barker claimed that the $156 million injection into courts infrastructure and capability in Budget 2005 ‘has got results’.

“But the median waiting time for High Court jury trials in Auckland has more than doubled since 2003, to 304 days, compared to a 70% increase nationwide. The median waiting time in Auckland District Court has jumped 17% to 293 days since 2004.

“And the number of outstanding High Court jury trials in Auckland has more than quadrupled since 2002, from 47 to 203, while in the district court they have increased 17% to 175 cases.

It was recently reported that retired judges were being called in to help work through caseloads in the busiest courts, such as Auckland and Counties-Manukau.

“Now we find through parliamentary questions that six extra police prosecution staff are being drafted in from around the country for two months to help clear the backlog in Auckland.

“I've been calling for improvements in our courts for years, but every time I did, the Minister assured us there was no problem.

“But if there was no problem what is he fixing with this $6.3 million?

“It’s time Rick Barker admitted there is still a big problem with court delays, despite his claim that he’s done ‘heaps’.”

Attachment: answers to parliamentary questions

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Answers to parliamentary questions – prosecution staff

3698 (2008). Chester Borrows to the Minister of Police (05 May 2008): Have Police prosecution staff from around the country been asked to go to Auckland to help clear a backlog of cases; if so, how many?
Police Minister Annette King replied: I am advised that the Police Prosecution Service (PPS) is supporting a two-month caseload initiative in the Auckland District Court that commenced on 5 May 2008. The PPS is providing an additional six prosecutors for the duration of the initiative. Those staff have been drawn from a number of PPS offices, four being from outside of Auckland (for part of the initiative). This response also answer question for written answer 3699 (2008).

3700 (2008). Chester Borrows to the Minister of Police (05 May 2008): Have Police prosecution staff from around the country been asked to go to Auckland to help clear a backlog of cases; if so, what will this cost in terms of travel and accommodation, and any other expenses?
Police Minister Annette King replied: I am advised that the estimated cost to the Police Prosecution Service (PPS) in supporting the two-month caseload initiative that commenced in the Auckland District Court on 5 May 2008 is $38,000.00 which will cover travel, accommodation and other expenses.


ENDS

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