Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

​COVID hangover causes jump in court delay 

- NSW Criminal Courts Statistics Jul 2017 - Jun 2022

Link to report summary:

Release Date: Thursday 15 December 2022

Time to justice in the Local Court has risen significantly over the last four years due to covid-related disruptions to court operations.  

New criminal court data released today by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that in 2021/22 contested cases in the Local Court took nine months to finalise from the date of arrest (279 days).  This is nearly three months longer than in 2018/19 (up 81 days from 198 days in 2018/19). 

"The Local Court is the engine room of the criminal justice system so longer wait times have broad reaching implications for a large number of victims and defendants." said Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.   

Domestic Violence court cases have been particularly affected by the increase as a third of defended hearings involve a DV charge. Last year, a typical contested domestic violence matter took 271 days to finalise in the Local Court; more than 100 days longer than in 2018/19 (160 days). 

"Court delay has many undesirable consequences. Both victims and defendants can be in a state of limbo waiting for resolution and the prospect of conviction can diminish over time as witnesses and victims disengage from the process." said Jackie Fitzgerald. 

The increase in court delay is a consequence of covid-related court disruptions in 2020, 2021 and early 2022.  "In 2021/22 the Local Court finalised 29% fewer defended hearings than in 2018/19. This increases the number of court matters waiting for a hearing and in turn increases time from arrest to finalisation.  

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
Email: bcsr@justice.nsw.gov.au
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au