National mulling 'targets and results' system to get cases through courts faster

Simon Bridges says the National Party is proposing "creative and bold" measures to fix the country's "broken" justice system.

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Simon Bridges outlined some of his party's ideas on TVNZ1's Q+A. Source: Q+A

His comments on TVNZ1's Q+A programme come as prisoners held on remand account for more than one third of the prison population, with around 1200 of those prisoners awaiting sentence.

Mr Bridges believes introducing performance measures could help speed the system up.

"We are talking about the idea of targets and results, we have seen these applied in other areas like DHBs for example," Mr Bridges said.

When pressed by Q+A host Jack Tame on what the consequences would be for missing targets imposed on the judicial system, Mr Bridges outlined one of his ideas

"Sunlight is a remarkable disinfectant, if we are able to see city by city or region by region what the timeframes for court cases is, I believe that spurs a competitive impulse that does get movement happening within the system," he said.

For more on this story tune in to Q+A on TVNZ1 tonight at 9.30pm, or at TVNZ OnDemand.

The National Party leader thinks "something akin to a league table" would help facilitate this competitive drive within the court system.

Another measure proposed by Mr Bridges is longer court hours, including weekend sessions.

"If you accept my premise that we have a system that is in some parts broken, that is taking too long and costing too much, you need some creative and bold ideas," Mr Bridges said of his longer hours proposal.

The National leader's comments come after then Acting Chief District Court Judge John Walker said in September that with the support of the Ministry of Justice and Corrections, he had started working on measures to address the issue.

“This has led me to be able to allocate eight extra judge-weeks in Auckland, Manukau and Christchurch courts for sentencing remand prisoners,” Judge Walker said at the time.

He also issued a direction to lawyers aimed at ensuring sentencing dates are met and court time is not wasted.

Q+A is on TVNZ1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.