Victorian Corrections officers struggling to cope with explosion of offenders serving community sentences
More than 30,000 Community Corrections Orders were given to offenders last year in 11,577 cases before Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.
The trend has inundated case workers according to Community and Public Sector Union spokesman Julian Kennelly prompting a call for “more shoes on the ground’’.
“With caseloads as high as they are, they (corrections officers) are only spending half an hour with an offender to make an assessment,’’ Mr Kennelly said.
“The program definitely needs more resources’’
The warning comes after the Herald Sun revealed yesterday Victoria’s top prosecutor Gavin Silbert had concerns serious criminals were among the offenders receiving CCOs and skipping jail following a landmark legal judgment in December 2014.
Police Association boss Ron Iddles also said a review into the system was necessary.
``Members work hard to arrest someone and put them before the courts,’’ he said.
``Previously there was an expectation there would be a punishment. We are seeing some of the types of cases where there should be actual jail sentences.’’
Opposition corrections spokesman Edward O’Donohue said the scope of CCOs had been widened and must be fixed.
“By failing to act to address the impact of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Boulton, Daniel Andrews is placing an enormous burden on police and community corrections staff who must manage the increase in offenders on a CCO, including large numbers of sex and other high risk offenders.”
The Government boosted funding for Corrections by $88.9 million in the 2015/16 budget, which would fun 147 new staff and expand programs to keep people out of jail.
Acting Minister for Corrections Robin Scott said extra resources had been made available to help with increased case loads.
“The previous government neglected to support community corrections and we are acting to fix their mess.
“Our community corrections staff do important work and we will always work closely with them to ensure they have support they need.”
Last month in a parole report released by Victorian Acting Auditor-General Dr Peter Frost he said there were emerging challenges in the CCO system and it must be investigated.