As election-fuelled debates heat up about law and order, a new coalition of legal and community organisations has warned that these debates are turning into an "auction" on who can be tougher on crime.
Launched in Melbourne today, the Smart Justice coalition - incorporating funding from the Victoria Law Foundation and the Reichstein Foundation - is seeking to inform the Victorian public of its concerns that communities do not receive adequate information regarding criminal justice policies.
"We are concerned that the public may only hear one side of the argument during the heated election period - that more police, new offences and tougher sentences are the way to tackle crime," said Smart Justice spokesperson Huge de Kretser.
"We want to inform the public about what works, what is cost effective and how we can reduce crime without violating Victorians' human rights."
Smart Justice is a coalition of legal and community organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres, which have joined forces to promote a better understanding of criminal justice polices and enhance the safety of Victorians.
Together, they will seek to provide information and facts about the criminal justice system, law and order, sentencing and other justice issues.
The Smart Justice program also aims to include enhanced support for victims of crime; greater resources to address the causes of crime and repeat offending; sentencing options that address the causes of offending and greater focus on crime prevention.
Supporters of the program include the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar, Liberty Victoria and the Salvation Army.