Additional reports published for the SVO scheme review
Thursday, 28 October 2021
The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council has published two additional background papers to support their review of the serious violent offences (SVO) scheme.
Background Paper 3: Analysis of case law and select sentencing remarks looks at key Queensland Court of Appeal decisions related to the scheme and how it is understood and applied by courts. This paper also analyses sentencing remarks for cases sentenced between 1 January 2019 to 28 February 2021 published on the Queensland Sentencing Information Service (QSIS) database.
The paper highlights that since the SVO scheme was introduced in 1997, the Court of Appeal has developed significant case law about how the scheme is to be applied, particularly where the decision to make a declaration is discretionary. This highlights the limited statutory guidance in Part 9A of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) about when to make an SVO declaration.
Key findings from Background Paper 4: An analysis of sentencing and parole outcomes include:
- There were 437 cases in Queensland declared to be an SVO between 2011-12 and 2019-20.
- The scheme was predominately applied to three categories of offences: sexual violence offences, non-sexual violence offences and serious drug offences.
- The most common specific offences the scheme was applied to include maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, rape, trafficking in dangerous drugs, malicious act with intent, manslaughter and attempted murder.
- The analysis of parole outcomes found that for offenders subject to an SVO declaration, the actual time served in custody beyond the required 80 per cent of the sentence varied depending on the type of offence, with prisoners convicted of drug trafficking being released at or near to their parole eligibility date compared to offenders convicted of a sexual violence or non-sexual violence offence.
The background papers play an important role in supporting the Terms of Reference review on the SVO scheme in Part 9A of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 and can be downloaded for free from the Council’s website.
An Issues Paper is being finalised by the Council and will be released in early November. The paper will provide the next opportunity for the community and organisations to contribute feedback to the Council by considering the issues outlined in the paper and responding to some or all the questions raised about the operation and effectiveness of the scheme in Queensland.
The Council will deliver a final report to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman MP, on 11 April 2022.
The Terms of Reference outlining what the Council has been asked to consider is available on the Council’s website, along with two further background papers and an information sheet about the SVO scheme.