Tuesday, October 29, 2013


October 30, 2013 

VICTORIAN court cases are being scheduled on weekends as part of attempts to get matters dealt with as quickly as possible and tackle the problem of overcrowded remand cells.
A Melbourne magistrate has labelled the failure to bring prisoners to court because remand cells are at capacity as outrageous and beyond a joke.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said the government was working to boost prison bed numbers and a number of court cases were being scheduled on weekends to deal with the situation.
"We'll work with Corrections, we'll work with the court system to maximise the opportunity for people to get their court cases heard as quickly as possible," he told reporters on Wednesday.
"We are very keen to make sure that people get to justice as quickly as possible and we're also very keen to send a very strong message that we are tough on crime."
Hells Angels sergeant-at-arms Peter "Skitzo" Hewat was due to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday, but his case was adjourned when he was not brought to the building.
A number of other criminal matters have also been delayed in recent weeks because the court's police cells are operating at capacity.
Magistrate Ged Lethbridge said the situation was unacceptable.
"This is getting to be so far beyond a joke," he said.
Dr Napthine said Hewat is in custody and will be dealt with by the justice system.
"He will be dealt with appropriately by the courts, but he is in custody."
Corrections Victoria says temporary accommodation is being created at prisons to help ease the backlog and the department will try to have prisoners appear via videolink where possible.
Police say the high number of people in custody is due to more arrests being made, as well as police targeting bikie gangs and people who breach parole.
Dr Napthine said the coalition had opened 680 additional prison beds since it had been in government, with another 2500 in the pipeline.
"It's not something that can be fixed in a short space of time when you've got a huge capital build and a huge backlog in terms of numbers of prison beds."


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