Serious violent offences scheme review
Serious violent offences are thankfully only a small proportion of offences committed in Queensland.
However these offences cause enormous harm and significantly impact on people's lives At the heart of our review of the serious violent offences scheme were several key questions.
Does it appropriately recognise the seriousness of the offence?
Is it applied only in appropriate cases?
And is it working to protect the community?
Victims told us that the scheme is not doing what it was supposed to do.
They raised concerns and even in cases involving high levels of violence
including serious sexual offences, declarations were not being made.
The council found strong evidence that the current serious violent offences scheme is constraining the sentencing process.
It limits judicial discretion to take a plea of guilty and other mitigating factors into account.
A one-size-fits-all approach to justice does not serve the community well.
The council recommends reforming the scheme to apply presumptively to listed offences sentenced to over five years.
Under this approach, a judge must make a declaration unless it finds that it is not in the interest of justice to do so.
This will likely result in more declarations being made for sentences under 10 years, but this is an acknowledgement
of the serious harm that these offences cause to victims, survivors and their families.
Other reforms recommended recognise stakeholder concerns that the current scheme does not allow judges to recognise individual circumstances when imposing a sentence.
Judicial discretion is very important.
The council was concerned by the short period of time some offenders, who have committed serious offences,
spend supervised on parole and by the number of offenders who don't even apply for parole at all.
The evidence is clear that the community is best protected when serious offenders, who have spent a significant amount of time in prison, are supervised in the community on their release.
We therefore recommend that judges when making a declaration be able to set a parole eligibility date
within the range of 50 to 80 percent, rather than of being fixed at 80 percent.
We considered if serious drug offence should be kept within a reformed scheme.
We concluded that serious drug offences sentenced to 10 years and over should continue to be included.
This is because while such offences are not inherently violent, they can cause great harm to the community.
We've also recommended some new offences be added and other less serious offences be removed.
I'd like to express my gratitude to all individuals and organisations who supported our work on this review.
We hope that our recommendations will contribute to creating a better criminal justice response to serious offending and, more importantly, a safer community.
The Council has published its final report of the serious violent offences (SVO) scheme.
We have made 26 recommendations to Queensland Government to reform the scheme.
Short on time? Our plain English community summary (PDF, 1.6 MB) will tell you what you need to know about our review.
- Terms of Reference
- Issues paper (PDF, 3.2 MB)
- Literature review (PDF, 573.1 KB) and technical report (PDF, 2.1 MB)
Any views expressed in this report are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Council.
- History of the serious violent offences scheme (Background Paper 1) (PDF, 932.5 KB)
- Minimum non-parole period schemes for serious violent offences in Australia and select international jurisdictions (Background Paper 2) (PDF, 1.1 MB)
- Analysis of key Queensland Court of Appeal decisions and select sentencing remarks (Background Paper 3) (PDF, 1.7 MB)
- Analysis of sentencing and parole outcomes: the who, what and how long of serious violent offences (Background Paper 4) (PDF, 2.0 MB)
Submissions listed as ‘not published’ have been withheld from publication for privacy or legal reasons.