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Transforming Criminal Justice

Transforming Criminal Justice presents bold and brave ideas for reform, considering all the bodies and institutions that are part of the criminal justice system or interact with it.

Putting people first

The Government of South Australia is committed to creating a future criminal justice system that meets community expectations, that protects and supports victims, and that acts quickly and effectively so that offenders face consequences in a timely manner. To do this, reform is required across the entire continuum of the criminal justice system: from police to prisons, victims of crime and witnesses, the legal profession, the judiciary, the courts and the parole board.

What's happening right now?

Improving information sharing

The government is pursuing a number of measures to modernise and improve information sharing within the criminal justice sector.

The Summary Procedure (Service) Amendment Bill 2017 is currently before Parliament. The Bill aims to future-proof the criminal justice system by enabling information to be sent and served in more ways, and to keep pace with evolving technologies. This includes the electronic transfer of court documents, police-issued summons and the potential for new rules to allow online guilty pleas.

In addition, the Electronic Transactions (Legal Proceedings) Amendment Bill 2017 was passed by Parliament on 29 March 2017. The Bill modifies the Electronic Transactions Act 2000, allowing for the broader use of electronic communications in legal proceedings.

Find out more about improving information sharing

Youth Court legislation commenced 1 January 2017
The Statutes Amendment (Youth Court) Act 2016 commenced on 1 January 2017. The Act makes a number of changes that allow the Youth Court to operate in a more flexible manner. These changes allow magistrates to do more of the work of the Youth Court. The title of the principal judicial officer of the Youth Court has been changed from Senior Judge to Judge.

PDF iconYouth Court amendments factsheet (PDF 170.92 KB)
Sentencing Bill 2016
The Sentencing Bill 2016 has been introduced into Parliament, and is due to be considered in 2017. The Bill gives greater guidance to courts on how offenders should be sentenced.

Presently, there is a long list of considerations with no guidance about priority. Under the Bill, a judge or magistrate will have to place public safety first ­ with other factors such as rehabilitation, punishment, publicly denouncing an offender and holding them to account given secondary consideration.

The Sentencing Bill broadens the options available to a court, including creating a new type of sentence – an intensive correction order. 

Clarification has been given to court-ordered home detention. A number of offences will be excluded. The exclusion would apply to certain offences, including of a violent or sexual nature if the offender has received a home detention sentence for similar offence in the preceding 5 years. In addition, an offender convicted of major drug offences would not be eligible for court-ordered home detention. 

The exclusions are similar to those that apply to suspended sentences. 

Read more about the Sentencing Act review. 


Major indictable reform
Following extensive consultation, the Summary Procedure (Indictable Offences) Amendment Bill 2016 has been introduced to Parliament. The Bill proposes changes to court processes to focus on early resolution and case disclosure.

By reducing lengthy delays, the Bill aims to ease the burden on victims of crime and witnesses. In a fundamental change, both prosecution and defence will be required to prepare case statements so the issues in dispute can be identified earlier.

Following consultation on a draft Bill, the government made changes to ensure compliance mechanisms will apply to both the prosecution and defence and that subpoenas are only issued with the consent of the parties or will be overseen by judicial officers. The streamlined system aims to make more efficient use of the resources of police, prosecutors and the judiciary and to reduce backlogs in the courts.

Read more about  major indictable reform.