As members of RAP’s 2017-18 Criminal Justice team, we have been researching and implementing a project analysing the Magistrates' Court Criminal Justice Diversion Program and Children’s Court’s Youth Diversion Service. We have consulted with relevant stakeholders, including judiciary and staff from the Magistrates’ and Children’s Courts, Victoria Police, the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation, politicians from the major political parties, criminal law defence practitioners, community legal centres, Victoria Legal Aid, academics and other community groups and coalitions representing the interests of minority communities. We have identified a need for greater consistency and transparency in the diversion process, along with a need for greater emphasis on diversion in both adult and youth justice systems. Minority communities who are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system are particularly disadvantaged as a result of these deficiencies in the current schemes. Our project aims to promote the importance of pre-plea diversion schemes and start a dialogue around the extent of prosecutorial discretion in the diversion process. We have compiled a number of recommendations for improvement of the current schemes, and consider that their implementation would result in greater accountability and accessibility. Ultimately, our objective is to work toward legislative reform that would allow the final decision regarding diversion to rest with judicial officers, and to develop guidelines including a Failure to Divert Declaration for prosecutors. Our report ‘Justice Diverted? Prosecutorial discretion and the use of diversion schemes in Victoria’, will be launched during Law Week on 17 May 2018.
Beth King, Saranya Saranavan, Emily Scott and David De Witt
Liberty Victoria's Rights Advocacy Project (RAP)
Members of RAP’s 2017-18 Criminal Justice team
Biography: The project has been completed as part of the Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project (RAP) 2017–18 program. Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project (RAP) was founded in 2013 to provide volunteers with the knowledge and tools to plan and execute strategic advocacy projects, and to build a community of the next generation of human rights advocates. More information and details of past projects can be found here: https://libertyvictoria.org.au/rap