Sentencing Advisory Council
In August 2017 the Acting Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council examine and report on a statutory sentencing discount for pleas of guilty in Tasmania. This was a response to concerns in relation to delays in criminal proceedings and late-resolving guilty pleas, in particular the significant impact on the efficiency of the administration of justice and the court system and the unnecessary additional stress and trauma for victims, their families and other vulnerable participants in the criminal trial process.
The Council has commenced its preliminary research for this referral and will prepare a consultation paper for release and comment in the first half of 2018.
In late 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Council expand the terms of reference for the mandatory treatment for sex offenders project to include consideration of mandatory treatment for drug and alcohol offenders. The Council divided this project into 2 stages:
The Council has completed Stage 1 and released Research Paper No. 1: Mandatory Treatment for Sex Offenders on 16 February 2017.
The Council has completed Stage 2 and released Research Paper No. 2: Mandatory Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Affected Offenders on 21 December 2017.
In October 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council examine and provide a report on sentencing in relation to driving offences that result in the death or injury of another. Work on this referral commenced in June 2016.
The Council released a Consultation Paper on 22 October 2016 which provides an overview of the existing sentencing framework in Tasmania and information on sentencing patterns for driving offences where death or injury was caused, both in Tasmania and in other jurisdictions. The paper sought feedback on 20 areas in particular through a series of questions around sentencing and possible reform options. The consultation period closed on 18 November 2016.
The Council also conducted a series of forums and individual meetings with key stakeholders in November 2016.
The Council released its Final Report No. 8: Sentencing of Driving Offences that Result in Death or Injury on 26 April 2017.
In March 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council examine putting into effect compulsory sex offender treatment programs in prison.
In late 2015 the Attorney further requested the Council examine putting into effect compulsory sex offender treatment programs in prison and in the community. In addition Council was requested to include consideration of mandatory treatment generally and not solely for sex offenders. The Council has divided this project into 2 stages:
The Council has completed work on Stage 1 of this project, and released Research Paper No 1: Mandatory Treatment for Sex Offenders on 16 February 2017.
Stage 2 commenced in February 2017.
In October 2015 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council undertake a separate project to investigate the implementation of minimum mandatory sentencing for serious sexual offences against children, and examine Tasmania’s current legislative framework for sentencing sex offenders. The Council was also asked to provide preliminary advice on the legislative means required to implement such a scheme and provide advice as to what mandatory minimum sentences for serious sexual offences should be and which offences should be captured within the scope of the mandatory sentencing provisions.
In April 2016 the Council undertook targeted consultation with key stakeholders to test Council’s preliminary views and obtain feedback in relation to the implementation of minimum mandatory sentencing for those who commit serious sexual offences against children.
The Final Report No. 7: Mandatory Sentencing for Serious Sex Offences against Children was released in November 2016.
Part A of the report reiterates Council’s recommendation from their earlier Sex Offence Sentencing report that mandatory sentencing not be introduced in Tasmania. It also sets out some objections to the implementation of a mandatory minimum sentencing scheme in Tasmania.
Part B discusses the implementation of such a scheme. The Council provides preliminary advice on:
The Sentencing Advisory Council received a reference from the Attorney-General in July 2014 to examine Tasmania’s current use of suspended sentences and how to phase out suspended sentences in Tasmania.
As part of this project the Council conducted a period of public consultation during August/September 2015. A Consultation Paper setting out Council’s preliminary views and draft recommendations, and companion Background Paper containing background information, were released to assist the public to provide comment.
The Council also commissioned a specialist report to assist in examining the cost of alternative sentencing options. The separate economic modelling report 'Exploring the Costs of Alternatives to Suspended Sentences' in Tasmania was released to the public together with the final report.
The Council released its Final Report No. 6: Phasing out of Suspended Sentencesin March 2016. The report examines how to phase out suspended sentences in Tasmania and makes 55 recommendations in relation to this area. The recommendations cover:
In October 2013 the Attorney-General requested the Sentencing Advisory Council provide advice on sentencing of adult family violence offenders in Tasmania, following the identification of a number of problems relating to the sentencing of family violence offenders in a series of reports presented to the Government of the day.
The Sentencing Advisory Council released its Final Report No. 5: Sentencing of Adult Family Violence Offendersin December 2015. This report provides advice on the sentencing of adult family violence offenders in Tasmania and includes consideration of the range and adequacy of sentencing options and support programs currently available, and the role of specialist family violence lists or courts in dealing with family violence matters.
The Council was not asked to provide recommendations and so the report offers 12 observations about current sentencing practices for these offences.
In May 2012 the Attorney-General sought advice from the Sentencing Advisory Council in relation to the sentencing of sex offences in Tasmania.
As part of this project, during May 2013 the Council invited the public to express their views on the appropriateness of present sentencing practices for sex offences in Tasmania, and what changes could be made to the legal system to address any practices considered not appropriate. To assist the public the Council released a detailed Research Paper to provide background information and analysis of sentencing practices in Tasmania and other jurisdictions for these offences, as well as a Consultation Paper which highlighted some issues for consideration and response by the public. A public forum was also conducted for any interested parties to attend.
The Sentencing Advisory Council released its Final Report No. 4: Sentencing of Sex Offendersin September 2015. This Report provides information on existing sentencing practices in the Tasmanian Supreme Court regarding sex offences and advice on how to address any adequacies. The report makes 15 recommendations regarding these areas.
The Research Paper and Consultation Paper are directly linked to the LINC Tasmania website where they have been deposited.
The project to establish a searchable online database for sentencing data from the Tasmanian courts has been completed for criminal cases in the Magistrates Court.
The database was launched in July 2015 and can be found at SAC Stats.
In October 2013 the Sentencing Advisory Council was asked by the Attorney-General to provide advice on the implications for an offender where a court does not record a conviction following a finding of guilt, and specifically whether a fine should be imposed if a conviction is not recorded.
The Council released its Final Report No. 3: Non-Conviction Sentences ‘Not recording a conviction as a sentencing option’ in August 2014, which contains 36 recommendations to the Attorney-General based on its research and findings. The recommendations address areas such as:
This project was one of the initial referrals to the Sentencing Advisory Council at its inception in June 2010. The Attorney-General requested Council to provide advice in relation to assaults on emergency workers in Tasmania.
In June 2012 Council released a Consultation Paper to assist in the discussion about the capacity of Tasmania’s sentencing structure to deal with the sentencing of persons found guilty of assaults on emergency service workers in Tasmania. The Paper:
The Final Report No. 2: Assaults on Emergency Service Workers was released in March 2013. Based on the evidence from research and the submissions received to the Consultation Paper, the final advice to the Attorney General contains one recommendation proposing various changes to the Police Offences Act 1935 and a definition of an emergency service worker.
This project was one of the initial referrals by the Attorney-General to the Sentencing Advisory Council at its inception in June 2010. The Council was asked to provide advice into offences and sentencing for arson and deliberately lit fires in Tasmania, including consideration of community information, education and post-sentencing programmes.
The Council released a Consultation Paper in December 2011 to assist in the discussion around the legislative framework, sentencing options and related matters in relation to adults and juveniles involved in fire setting. The Paper:
The Final Report No. 1: Arson and Deliberately Lit Fires was released in December 2012 and uses the research in the Consultation Paper to provide background information relating to both bushfire and property arson. The report makes 13 recommendations covering: