Two bodies have called for the fast-track construction of a new multi-jurisdiction court complex in the Macarthur region, with the current facilities undergoing significant pressure.
The Law Society of NSW and Police Association of NSW have teamed up to urge the government for the new court complex to be built, replacing the current “outdated, overflowing and unsafe” facilities being offered.
NSW Law Society president Doug Humphreys said an “explosion in the Macarthur population, expected to double over the next 10 years”, would put even greater pressure on the courts and legal services that were already struggling to cope with demand.
“The three local courts at Camden, Campbelltown and Picton cannot manage the current backlogs in criminal and civil cases. Camden and Picton were built in the 1800s and are no longer fit for purpose,” Mr Humphreys said.
“This means victims of crime and residents seeking resolutions to business and family disputes are waiting inordinate amounts of time for justice.”
This sentiment was echoed by secretary of the Police Association of NSW Pat Gooley, who said court backlogs in the Macarthur region were absorbing police time that could be better spent responding to and investigating crime.
“Crime prevention requires smart planning and smart investment in the justice system,” Mr Gooley said.
“This means ensuring our courts have the necessary resources and security, as well as adequate numbers of police prosecutors and support staff to serve our community.
“Police are tired of having to explain to victims and witnesses why matters are taking so long to come on for trial. We join with the Law Society in calling for urgent action to address this issue.”
Commenting further on the issue, president of Macarthur Law Society, Brett McGrath pointed to the lack of adequate security facilities for many types of cases in the Camden and Picton Local Courts, including apprehended violence orders (AVOs) relating to family violence.
The problem is evident, with the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research finding that there has been an increase of almost 45 per cent in the number of domestic violence cases in the Camden local government area over the past two years, Mr McGrath said.
“While an increase in the number of domestic violence cases may be attributed in part to growth in the population, a lack of appropriate court resources poses serious safety concerns for court users and particularly for victims of crime,” he said.