Criminal Law

2017/18 Annual Report

The 2017/18 financial year was once again a very busy year for the members of the Criminal Law Committee.

The Committee is well balanced with prosecutors, defence lawyers, barristers and sole practitioners but still lacks a voice from the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS). A representative from the ALS would be a welcome addition to the Committee membership.

The Committee continues to monitor the mandatory sentencing provisions under the burglary offences of the Criminal Code for unjust outcomes for offenders. Furthermore, the mandatory sentencing provisions for reckless driving under the Road Traffic Act are also being monitored for similar purposes. The Law Society remains committed to its opposition to all forms of mandatory sentencing.

The Criminal Law Committee has continued to advocate regarding issues within the prison environment and its non-workability for lawyers dealing with clients who are incarcerated. The Law Society met with the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services, and the report The Digital Divide: Access to digital technology for people in custody will hopefully bring a positive outcome for this matter. The problems that legal practitioners experience using the prisons to see clients on a daily basis has not improved, especially in the women’s prison.

The Committee also contributed to a number of Government initiatives relating to criminal law and procedure over the past 12 months, including a review of the proposed Commonwealth deferred prosecution agreements scheme, preparation of a position paper on the Criminal Procedure Amendment (Trial by Judge Alone) Bill 2017 and a submission to the Department of Justice regarding the adoption of the Uniform Evidence Legislation in Western Australia. The Committee has also been supportive of finding ways to reduce time delays in the District and Supreme Courts with the ever decreasing budgets and greater workloads.

The Committee maintains liaison with other relevant committees: Registrar Whitbread is a member of the Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court Committee and the Convenor David Davidson has been appointed to the Law Council of Australia’s National Criminal Law Committee. The Committee has also contributed to the Aboriginal Incarceration and Justice Reinvestment Working Group and monitors the Disability Justice Centre with its member Karen Farley SC providing regular reports.

For more information about this committee please email General Manager, Advocacy – Mary Woodford, advocacy@lawsocietywa.asn.au