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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1645 ..

Community service orders

MR STEFANIAK (3.15): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1)notes with concern that currently 35% of all Community Service Orders imposed by ACT courts so far this year have been breached by offenders; and

(2)calls on the ACT Government to take steps to address this problem.

Mr Speaker, my motion is a very simple one. It firstly notes with concern that currently 35 per cent of all community service orders imposed on offenders by ACT courts so far this calendar year have been breached. Secondly, it calls on the ACT government to take steps to address this problem. Because of the nature of matters that go before the courts, I do not expect the problem to be completely overcome-but basically that steps be taken to help address this problem.

Some members may not know what a community service order is. CSOs have been available in the legal system for some years-probably for a bit over a decade. A CSO is a fairly serious penalty for a court to impose. However, in many instances, a CSO is very practical and serves a useful purpose.

Currently, up to 208 hours community service can be ordered for juveniles and I think it is a bit more in the adult jurisdiction. CSOs are a useful type of penalty. The hierarchy of penalties goes something like this: for anyone who is convicted, about the lowest penalty he could get is an "admonish and discharge". That would be recorded, but that is about it.

You could say that the old penalty-sentenced to the rising of the court-also applies. After the court rises, off they go. That is followed by what people might see in the paper. Someone might be sentenced to a bond of good behaviour, where no conviction is recorded. That was the old 556A bond which is now 402 of the Crimes Act. That is without a conviction being recorded.

Next on the scale is what used to be the 556B bond. That is where a conviction is recorded but, apart from a bond of good behaviour, there is nothing further. That can have additional penalties, including fines, attached to it. A fine can be a significant penalty-and that probably comes next in the scheme of things. In fact, that may well come before the "without proceeding to sentence"under 556B.

Then we have suspended sentences, where an offender is sentenced to a term of imprisonment but it is suspended immediately upon their entering a bond to be of good behaviour, with whatever conditions a court may impose, which may include a fine.

After that, we have community service orders. They go up in lots of eight hours work. Invariably, you will see courts imposing 208 hours, 104 hours or maybe 60 hours.

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