Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 1 December 2022) . . Page.. 4183 ..
Answers to questions
Justice—community service work orders
(Question No 937)
Mrs Kikkert asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 14 October 2022:
(1) Given that the Government’s submission to the inquiry into Community Corrections states that “CSW [Community Service Work] has attained increasing importance as a sentencing option in the ACT”, this is despite Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicating that community supervision/work orders have decreased as the principal sentence for an offender since 2017-2018, can the Attorney-General explain this contradiction.
(2) Why have community supervision/work order sentences decreased significantly since 2017-2018.
Mr Rattenbury: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:
(1) The statement in the government submission was “CSW has attained increasing importance as a sentencing option in the ACT and other Australian and international jurisdictions.” That statement is qualitative rather than quantitative.
However, community service work orders are an important sentencing option in the ACT and are used by the ACT Courts in appropriate circumstances.
(2) Several factors outlined in the ABS Criminal Courts, Australia methodology1 should be considered when considering ABS quantitative data on “community supervision/work orders as a principal sentence” in the ACT from 2017-18 including:
- The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in restrictions in some states and territories that affected the number of defendants that could be finalised in the Criminal Courts in 2020–21. This context should be considered when interpreting the Criminal Courts data for the 2020–21 and 2019–20 reference periods, and when comparing to earlier years.
- “Community supervision/work orders” count any order requiring a person to perform work within the community or report to a person nominated by the court which includes community service orders, probation orders, treatment orders and referrals to conference.
- Only the most serious component of a compound/complex sentence is shown as the principal sentence.
- In 2018–19, ACT Courts records were migrated to the Integrated Court Management System. This improved the ability to incorporate external data, reducing the number of duplicated defendant records and consolidating related cases into one. This is likely to have affected the number of finalised defendants.
Also of note is that the ACT is a small jurisdiction and any change in small numbers can significantly impact the overall trends.