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Public confidence in the New South Wales Criminal Justice System


Release date: Thursday 12 February 2015 Embargo: 10.30am

Full report: Public confidence in the New South Wales Criminal Justice System - pdf 806Kb

Two out of three NSW residents (64 per cent) are confident that the criminal justice system (CJS) brings people who commit crimes to justice. Between 2007 and 2014, confidence in the NSW criminal justice system also increased.

These findings were drawn from a representative survey of 1,989 NSW residents in April and May 2014. The survey was carried out by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Similar surveys were conducted by the Bureau in 2007 and 2012.

The overwhelming majority of those surveyed in 2014 also expressed confidence that the criminal justice system respects the rights of the accused (81%) and treats accused people fairly (81%).

Only 44 per cent, however, expressed confidence that the CJS meets the needs of victims. Only one in three NSW residents (35 per cent) were confident that the CJS deals with cases promptly. Most (66 per cent) believe sentences handed down are too lenient.

Confidence in the CJS is higher among the young and among those who are more highly educated. It is lower among victims of crime and among those who mistakenly believe that property crime is rising or who underestimate conviction and imprisonment rates.

The Bureau also examined the relationship between public confidence in the criminal justice system and respondents’ principal source of news.

The results showed, for example, that readers of the Sydney Morning Herald were significantly more likely than other respondents to report confidence that the CJS brings people who commit crimes to justice, meets the needs of victims and that sentences handed down are appropriate.

2GB listeners, on the other hand, were found to be significantly less likely than other respondents to be confident that the CJS meets these requirements.

Commenting on the findings, the director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that the most encouraging finding was the growth in public confidence in and public knowledge concerning the criminal justice system.

“Back in 2007, for example, 53 per cent mistakenly thought that property crime was trending higher. That’s now down to 38 per cent. It’s taken quite a while but many more people are now in touch with the facts.”

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190

Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au