New peak Body to Focus on Police
1 July 2002 at 1:07 pm
A new peak body called the Victorian Criminal Justice Coalition has been established to keep a watching brief on the operation of police, courts and correctional services.
The group’s Convenor and spokesperson, Father Peter Norden says that the Coalition represents more than sixty different legal, academic, church and community groups that have professional and detailed knowledge of the operation of the police, courts and the correctional services system.
Fr. Norden says the Coalition will bring about a greater degree of accountability of the police, the courts, the correctional services and the prisons to the community it serves.
He says the Coalition will also contribute to a more balanced and informed debate about the work of the different elements of the criminal justice system in the media and the public domain.
Fr. Peter Norden, is a former prison chaplain.
The membership of the Coalition includes the Law Institute of Victoria, the Criminal Bar Association, Victoria Legal Aid, Liberty Victoria, the Victorian Council of Social Services, the Federation of Community Legal Centres, a range of academics with professional knowledge of the area, and a wide range of service organisations working within the criminal justice system.
The group also includes the justice departments of the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches.
Professor of Criminology, Austin Lovegrove, has committed his Melbourne University department to assisting the Coalition with independent assessments of crime policies of major political parties, and a critical analysis of faulty reporting of crime statistics.
Fr. Norden says the Attorney General, Police and Prisons Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Victoria State Shadow Ministers have been notified of the establishment of the Coalition and consultations have been requested for coming weeks.
Ten working groups of the Coalition have been formed and will focus on crime statistics, drug policy, sentencing policy, juvenile justice, police powers, victims of crime, legal aid, the treatment of the mentally ill and the intellectually disabled, and indigenous issues.
Fr. Norden says the Coalition has already sent a warning to political and media groups that misrepresentation of the facts, and manipulation of the community’s ignorance, about the criminal justice system will be directly targeted.