Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1655 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
saying that a certain level of breach, or a breach rate of a certain order, is a sign of failure.
It may be that the people who eventually made their way through that round of community service orders are completely rehabilitated and restored and will never offend again. In that case, despite there being a breach along the way, the system worked. I can tell you that they were better off being there than inside the Belconnen Remand Centre or a jail.
In the amendment I moved, I have utilised figures provided to me today by ACT Corrections. It is the advice of my department to me that those are the numbers, and that the numbers are declining inexorably. The amendment I moved simply reflects the reduction in numbers.
One other piece of advice provided to me by the department was that they are not saying, "We are out there being tough, or tougher, on breaches."I guess I should reflect this. I am not there saying, "Let's get really tough on these people; let's watch them like hawks; let's watch them 24 hours a day; let's make sure they don't deviate-slope off and have long lunches and stuff-and then whip out and breach them."
Regarding the reduction in the breach rate that has occurred over the last couple of years, to the extent a cause can be identified, it is that there is a much closer analysis these days of the suitability of persons considered for that sentencing option. the department acknowledges that. A combination of factors is leading to the reduction. It is not a matter of, "Let's get tough on community service orders."
Amendment agreed to.
MR STEFANIAK (3.53): Members have raised a couple of points, and I thank members for the debate. As I indicated earlier, those are the figures the Attorney quotes and I accept them.
On those figures, he has explained as best he can that there was a high rate in 2000-01. Yes, I happened to be Attorney for about six months at that time. I continued into the next financial year, when the rate went down to about 26-and now it is down to 24. So it may well be, Mr Stanhope, that it was something I or the previous government initiated.
Your colleague, Mr Hargreaves, mentioned to me that he brought a motion in relation to community service orders at some stage during the previous government. That is obviously an issue for the Assembly to be concerned about and on which it should keep tabs.
When Mr Stanhope was last talking, he indicated that I did not think CSOs are a reasonable sentencing option-or something like that. I do not think I ever said they are not a reasonable sentencing option, even if they are breached. I think it is clear, Mr Stanhope-that I appreciate that we are not going to have 100 per cent success in community service orders not being breached. They are a reasonable sentencing option.