Author Yeh Yeau Kuan
Published August 2004
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 82
Subject Court processes and delay; Offenders; Policing
Keywords court delay, arrest, committal, NSW District Court

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This paper examines two critical periods of delay in the processing of serious criminal (indictable) cases, namely arrest to committal and committal to outcome.


In 2002, court delay between committal and outcome for trial matters finalised in the NSW District Court was at its lowest level since the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research began publishing NSW Higher Courts data in 1988. Similarly, committal to outcome delay for sentence only matters fell to its lowest point in 2001. Between 1988 and 2003, median court delay nearly halved in cases where the defendant had been remanded in custody before trial. Median court delay fell by almost 63 per cent for all trial matters, and by over 33 per cent for sentence only matters over the same period. The delay between arrest and committal for cases committed to trial fell by just over 39 per cent between 1988 to 1997. Since that year, however, it has increased by about 75 per cent. Committal delays for sentence cases remained relatively stable between 1988 and 1998. Since that year, however, the delay between arrest and committal has almost doubled. These changes suggest that delay reduction strategies in court system now need to focus on the period between arrest and committal.