Annual Report page 1


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DIRECTOR’S OVERVIEW

This year has been another busy one. In many ways the year was dominated by the Blitz (details of which are given in this report) but the day to day work of the Office continued unabated. A supreme effort was called for - and delivered - by every section of the office. It is an honour to be leading such a dedicated and talented team.  For the second year in a row, almost double the long term average number of Supreme Court trials were completed. In addition, there was a significant increase in Magistrates Court matters completed during the year. The year was marked also by the conducting of some significant appeals, particularly Crown appeals involving sentencing in sexual offence matters.

In line with the existing policy of prosecuting matters in house, all Blitz trials were allocated to prosecutors within the Office. This provided great opportunities to emerging advocates, many of whom were conducting their first trials in the Supreme Court. They took to the task with dedication and enthusiasm. The future of the Office is bright.

The renewed attention paid to the paralegal area has continued this year, as is detailed in this report. The goal of having all paralegal staff undertake professional development has been realized. Senior paralegals again instructed in Supreme Court trials, in particular during the Blitz. I am keen to engage senior paralegal staff - who are generally in the later stages of legal studies - in court work, including appearing in routine list matters such as traffic lists and the like.

This Office continues to contribute to discussions about law reform in criminal law and procedure in the Territory. It was somewhat disappointing to see a Bill which incorporated many worthwhile reforms in the SARP area lapse at the end of the current Assembly. It is certainly hoped that those proposals (and some additional ones which are referred to in detail in this Report) can be resurrected as soon as possible in the life of the new Assembly.

I commented last year on the recommendation by Dr Hawke in his review of the ACT Public Service that in keeping with the vital independent role of the DPP, the DPP should receive appropriation funding in its own right. It is hoped that this important matter will be on the agenda of the next government.

As detailed in this report, the regulatory practice presents particular challenges to the Office. In general prosecution matters, charges have already been laid before the matter is referred to the Office. With regulatory matters on the other hand, briefs are received from regulatory agencies with recommendations for charges, but without charges having been laid. Regulatory agencies take their responsibilities very seriously.  The maters they investigate – and on occasion refer for consideration of prosecution – are of significance to the community and often involve complex issues of fact and law.  However, the briefs of evidence are sometimes compiled by agency staff who are not highly trained as investigators or experienced in investigations. Often detailed advice is

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ANNUAL REPORT  2011-12  DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS                                                                                    1

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