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Labour slack on court no-shows

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

19 December 2007

Labour slack on court no-shows

Reporters note: attached is court-by-court breakdown of cases on hold

Labour's justice system failed to convict anyone last year for failing to appear in court even though thousands of court cases are on hold because defendants fail to appear, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is releasing figures showing that in 2006, the latest year for which figures are available, there were no convictions for failure to appear - the worst of any year since at least 1980.

Yet Courts Department figures show that at September this year there were 18,682 cases on hold because defendants had absconded while on bail or simply failed to turn up.

"These figures are astounding.

"What's the point of the law if it's not being enforced?

"What sort of message are they sending to these people? That they can just decide to not appear and they get away with it?

"And what sort of pressure is that going to put on the courts system?

"At last count, there were 241 criminal jury trials outstanding in the High Court and 1,437 in district courts, with a median trial waiting time in the High Court of 290 days, and in district courts of 256 days.

"And there have been 20 stays of prosecution in the past three years because of delays, 10 of them in just the past year.

"All of this wastes the time of the courts and the police, and leaves victims of crime up in the air as they wait for justice.

"It's a shambles and it's all a result of Minister Rick Barker's failure to admit there is a problem."

Attachment: answers to parliamentary questions

  • Power – cases on hold
  • Failing to appear in court
  • ENDS


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