'Aggressive policing' creating court delays, crime statistics boss says

A push by police to increase the number of people arrested and charged for committing crimes has lead to a backlog in the court system and an increase in the prison population, the head of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research says.

A report released on Wednesday showed the time from committal to outcome for defendants on bail in the District Court rose by 23 per cent - from 246 days to 302 days - between 2012 and 2013.

For defendants in custody on remand, the delay increased by 6 per cent - from 233 days to 246 days.

Dr Don Weatherburn said the delay could be attributed to more "aggresssive" policing, which has seen an increase in the number of people arrested and charged despite the overall crime rate going down.

The report showed the number of people going through the higher courts increased by 9.7 per cent - from 3297 to 3618 - over the same time period, with most of those defendants' matters being finalised in the District Court. However, the system was not coping with the extra strain, he said.

"The criminal justice has a bad case of indigestion," Dr Weatherburn said.

"Much more aggressive policing activity is creating delays in the courts system.

"Police are putting much more resources into trying to find serious offenders who are likely to be convicted.

"Something will need to be done to address that delay."

The District Court sits above the Local Court and under the Supreme Court. It deals with almost all criminal matters, including manslaughter, dangerous driving, sexual assaults, robbery, drug supply and fraud.

The number of people charged with firearms, explosives and other weapons offences jumped almost 25 per cent between 2012 and 2013 while those charged with robbery and extortion-type offences was up 19 per cent.

Illicit drug charges were up 10.6 per cent and Dr Weatherburn said illicit drug use and supply was the one type of crime that is actually increasing in the community, driven chiefly by the use and supply of cocaine and amphetamines.

Last month, a BOCSAR report found the prison population rose by 13 per cent in a year to reach a record high of 10,917 in March.

The report found that crime was decreasing in NSW but more people were being arrested, prisoners were remaining in jail for longer and more offenders were receiving prison sentences for offences such as driving while disqualified.

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