Advertisement

Diverse submissions inform review of serious violent offender laws

A review of Queensland’s serious violent offences (SVO) scheme has attracted diverse submissions, ranging from calls for it to be retained and extended to concerns about the mandatory nature of the current laws.

The State Government in March charged the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (QSAC) with the review of sentences handed to people convicted of declared serious violent offences which require they serve a minimum of 80% or 15-years – whichever is lesser – of prison terms imposed by the courts.

QSAC, in statement to QLS Proctor, on Wednesday said it had completed the first stage of the terms of reference review on the SVO scheme in Part 9A of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 with the recent closure for preliminary submissions.

QSAC member Dan Rogers, who is also the review’s project sponsor, said that, with little legislative change to the scheme since its introduction 24 years ago, the response to the council’s call for feedback generated a broad range of informed and considered comments and observations.

“We’ve identified key themes running across many of the submissions, from stakeholders supporting the scheme being retained and extended, to others raising concerns about its mandatory nature and impact on plea rates and court sentencing practices,” Mr Rogers said.

A number of people raised concerns about potential gaps in the offences subject to the scheme, while the impact of the scheme on parole, post-release supervision and the safe reintegration of offenders into the community was another common theme, as was its potential impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those with mental health issues.

“As part of our initial consultations, we met with victims of crime support groups and invited their preliminary feedback,” Mr Rogers said. “It’s important to the council that any reforms to the scheme we might recommend consider the views of victims.

“We will be working closely with victim support organisations during the next stages of the review to ensure that those who wish to contribute have the opportunity to do so.”

The council will use the preliminary feedback to help identify matters to be explored in more detail in an issues paper planned for release later this year at which point it will call for further submissions.

Supporting the issues paper, the council will release a series of background papers. The first of these – on the history of the SVO scheme – is now available on the council’s website.

“By providing more detailed information in background papers we’re supporting those wanting to make further submissions to the review,” Mr Rogers said.

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Shannon Fentiman MP, issued the terms of reference to the council in April 2021, and the council must deliver its final report to the Attorney-General with its findings by 11 April 2022.

The SVO scheme was introduced to respond to concern for community safety and community outrage over serious violent crime. It was described as being based on a reasonable community expectation that sentences reflect the seriousness of the violence and harm of the offending, and that just punishment would be given to those who genuinely deserve it.

QSAC Chair and retired Queensland District and Childrens Court judge John Robertson said in April that QSAC had identified a need for the scheme to be reviewed in its previous reports on sentencing for child homicide offences and its review of community-based sentencing orders, imprisonment and parole options.

Share this article

One Response

  1. The ALP’s soft stance on crime is evident once again here. The next paper should illustrate how soft the penalties in Queensland are already compared to other jurisdictions in this country, including the Commonwealth.

    A great leader once said if it aint broke dont fix it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Search by keyword