‘Court reforms work’

VICTORIAN courts are clearing cases at a record pace despite having the largest number of matters lodged in 10 years.

Statistics show Magistrates Courts in the Hume region, which includes Wodonga and Wangaratta, cleared more than 9000 cases in the 2012-13 financial year.

The total number of criminal matters finalised was 6252, but that does not include Children’s Court figures.

A report from the productivity commission outlines the clearance rate.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the report on government services shows the highest clearance rate on record across the state’s courts at 107 per cent.

The clearance rate measures the number of cases finalised in the courts as a percentage of new cases lodged.

Mr Clark said the report showed the Supreme Court, County Court, Magistrates and Children’s courts finalised more than 342,000 cases compared to total lodgements of just over 320,000 matters.

“This shows that reforms to our court system are working to help improve the clearance of both criminal and civil cases,” Mr Clark said.

He said a range of efficiences are reducing the cost of finalising cases with a reduction of 5 per cent last year.

“These results show that not only are our courts able to provide access to justice more quickly, they are also doing so more efficiently,” Mr Clark said.

The figures for the Hume region show Shepparton had the most criminal matters initiated with 2050.

But it finalised 2379 cases, which means a backlog from the previous year has been cleared.

The statistics for the other centres were Benalla (483 initiated, 484 finalised), Cobram (270, 303), Corryong (36, 22), Mansfield (192, 161), Seymour (1088, 912), Wangaratta (646, 618) and Wod- onga (1127, 1124).

A total of 2518 family violence or personal safety matters were initiated in the region, with 2501 finalised.

There were 256 victims of crime cases, with 303 finalised.

The government recently legislated to create a new statutory entity, Court Services Victoria, to provide administrative support to courts free of political control. It is expected to come into full operation from July 1.