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Court Caseloads Are Improving

Court Caseloads Are Improving

Courts Minister, Rick Barker, said, "contrary to claims made by the National party's Law and Order spokesperson, the most recent figures show that, yet again, their selective recounting of the facts is somewhat misleading."

Mr Barker was referring to claims made that there is a "log jam" in the court system.

"In District Courts, where the majority of New Zealanders engage in the court system, Civil jurisdiction cases awaiting hearing as at 30 June 2005 have reduced to 1,661 compared with 1,730 at the same point last year.

"The median age of criminal summary cases over the past financial year, were reduced by 28 days and the number of cases aged over 12 months old were reduced by one third. In addition to this the number of cases on hand during this time were reduced by 20%.

"Recently I announced that the environment court caseload has been slashed. The caseload faced by the Environment Court at the end of June 2001 was some 3,137 cases. As at the end of June 2005 the caseload had been reduced by over 50% to 1,566," said Mr Barker.

"There are improvements in the delivery of service across the board and Mr Power is being somewhat disingenuous in suggesting that there is a log jam for which this government has done nothing.

"Courts staff and judges have worked tirelessly to reduce both cases on hand and to speed up the disposal of cases. I would point out that delays are not always caused by court process as clients and solicitors are entitled to request delays.

"Last year this government approved the appointment of six additional judges. This government has increased spending across the justice sector and is responsible for significant investments in refurbishing and building of new courts across the country, I announced $39 million worth of spending in May, with much more to come.

"Further to this, I have instigated the Service Improvement Programme. This will target courts to further reduce backlogs and further reduce waiting times with immediate and customised support.

"Added to that will be ongoing enhancement of training for all front line staff.

"Mr Power cannot justifiably claim to say that this government has done nothing to improve courts' performance when faced with these facts," said Mr Barker.

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