Tasmanian courts kept busy over 2016-17

The Magistrates Court of Tasmania has reported a 16 per cent increase in caseloads over the past three years.

Adult criminal matters have risen gradually over that time, according to the court’s latest annual report, increasing by 3609 cases to 22,527 in 2016-17.

Fraud, theft, and robbery offences all rose over 12 months as did breaches of bail and suspended sentences.

Youth criminal matters dropped by 250 from three years ago but there were also rises in the same areas.

There were 51 matters in the Youth Justice Division dealing with illicit drug offences – almost double that from three years ago.

Just over 65 per cent of the adult caseload was cleared from the courts within six months and 22 per cent within 12 months, representing an improvement on the year before.

Just over 83 per cent of youth justice matters were cleared within six months.

The courts had a substantial decrease in the granting of Family Violence Order applications over the past financial year with 583 granted, compared to 669 the year before, and 42 applications extended.

As for restraining orders, there were 1169 granted and 16 extended.

There was a slight lift in applications by police to take a child to safety with this occurring 47 times.

There were 170 applications for a care and protection order.

The courts imposed $4.2 million in fines.

Meanwhile, the Legal Aid Commision of Tasmania reported a 129 per cent increase in servicing victims of family violence.

Legal Aid director Graham Hill said this was due to the expansion of the service into Northern Tasmania and other regional area, reaching 360 clients overall.

People called Legal Aid’s hotline most regarding matter dealing with children with 2379 calls taken.

Duty lawyers were used on 3966 occasions – a rise of 6 per cent from the previous year – and 70 per cent of those seeking help were on some sort of government benefit.

Legal Aid’s $14.4 million budget is jointly funded by the state and federal governments.