Policy, politics and criminal justice in NSW

Great piece by David Brown in The Conversation: NSW imprisonment - politics and perception

NSW Bail Act - we've given this its own page as the inquiries, legislative changes and discussion roll on over the years

Is rational law reform still possible in a shock-jock tabloid world? UNSW's David Brown in The Conversation (15.8.2014)

Alcohol/One punch laws/Lockouts etc

Alcohol lockout zone gets mixed report in Parliamentary Inquiry (SMH 1.9.2014)

Retiring NSW District Court chief judge Reg Blanch takes aim at media-driven policy and 'unfair' mandatory sentences (SMH 5.8.2014)

The latest BOCSAR statistics show a decline in violent assaults on licensed premises, but as many outlets report, it is unlikely this is the result of one punch laws, as the statistics are measured over the past 2 years and the laws have only been in place since January 2014. (ABC online 2.6.2014). The Daily Telegraph also reports that the figures from the 1st quarter of 2014 show an increase in assaults outside pubs and clubs in the Kings Cross area (2.6.2014).

Moral panic, epidemic, symptom or cause, trigger or excuse? Deaths from drunken assaults have prompted outpourings from victims families, media and finally the NSW Government which has now introduced restrictive laws for licensed premises in the CBD. Some selected commentary below:

Police Powers

As the NSW O'Farrell Government prepares to expand police powers of stop and search, search of property and arrest, the response from experts in the field is overwhelmingly negative. With the point being made more than once that traditional and effective policing methods such as gathering intelligence and collecting evidence to build a case are being undermined by giving police powers to arrest first and investigate later:

Child protection

  • Who actually carries the responsibility for the deaths of horrifically abused children? A DFCS worker goes public on ABC's Lateline (17.7.2013) to defend case workers: 'they are heroes'
  • Misery and mahem - a day in the life of a Department of Family and Community Services worker: Sydney Morning Herald (21st August 2013)

Legal Aid

  • Richard Ackland writes on cuts to legal aid in NSW: 'Legal Aid now just a bandaid' (Sydney Morning Herald 17.5.2013) : 'Last week the legal aid people in NSW internally circulated a board decision to stop funding a large number of defended cases in the Local Court. Only those cases where there is ''a real possibility of a jail sentence'' will be considered for grants of aid.' As anyone who has ever seen a self represented defendant struggle through an appearance will attest - this will only lead to more delays and injustice in our local courts, which currently hear 90% of cases.

Law Reform in NSW let down by Politics:Sydney Morning Herald (8.4.2013) Alex Steel, David Dixon and other leading academics examine the resurgence of populist law and order politics in NSW. After a promising start to the new Government and talk of ending 'tough on crime' auctions by the incoming Attorney General Greg Smith, it seems that we are just getting more of the same old rhetoric and politically driven legislation.

"Why are we spending money on something that doesn't work?" - Experts, including CJRN's Eileen Baldry debate Australia's  system on ABC Radio's World Today: podcast and transcript here

A blistering Mediawatch attack on the Daily Telegraph and talkback host Ray Hadley's misleading attacks on the Attorney General over reforms

The NSW Attorney General holds fast to his 'liberal' policies in the face of criticism from talkback radio and the oppostion writes Anna Patty in the Sydney Morning Herald. (3.2.2012)

Richard Ackland goes further and lambasts the "bombastic voices" in the tabloid media and talkback radio hosts in this scathing attack in the SMH (10.2.2012)

Cold case investigations/hate crime

  • Up to 80 murders and growing - Sydney's gay hate violence epidemic of the 80s and 90s was an epidemic that was ignored by homophobic police, media and the public. Many deaths recorded as suicides are now being reexamined and killers are still walking free writes Rick Fenely (The Age, 27th July 2013)