26th January 2020
The Herald-Sun reports on Sunday the 19th of January 2020 that Victoria Police are leading a push for the removal of Committal Proceedings from the Victorian Legal System.
Just shy of two years ago the Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) published, ‘A case for the Victims’, which included the abolition of Committals amongst a raft of other initiatives to improve the lot for Victims. https://caainc.org.au/a-case-for-the-victims/ .
Our premise was that the victims have already been traumatised by the matter they are involved in, it is therefore cruel and unjust to perpetuate that cruelty by the Justice system that is ostensibly supposed to be fair.
Supported by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Victims of Crime Commissioner, this move must be applauded and pursued with vigour.
The question is, why did it take two years before the issues have shown any sign of rectifying a wrong.
It may have something to do with the criticisms of Victoria Police by the CAA. VicPol does not do criticism well.
“If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success” – Malcome X
That VicPol is taking a lead role is encouraging, but what is not so encouraging is the bloody-minded attitude of VicPol to the CAA that in part has contributed to unacceptable delays and inaction on initiatives for victims, many within the control of VicPol.
Before the ink was dry on this missive, the legal fraternity was on the attack. The old adage of, ‘never get between a lawyer and their fee’, was again to the for.
Lawyers are the one party to this issue who have a conflict of interest, and their views must be qualified by this conflict.
There was notably no reference to a ‘fair trial’ in a spirited defence of the ‘status quo’, by a lawyer on radio, so assumably the removal of Committals does not impact on fairness a cornerstone of our justice system. Much of the opposition was around the future ability of lawyers to negotiate on their client’s behalf.
That is lawyer-speak for a threat to the ‘Plea Bargaining’, a process which among other things whitewashes crimes committed on victims, justified by the argument of efficiency of Justice. Again, the victim in that debate is dismissed.
Now that there seems some sensible consideration to reform, perhaps the three parties to this push should be bought together to recommend further reforms, it would be efficient and effective.
The one group that should not be involved are the lawyers representative bodies, as they have a commercial imperative and an absolute conflict of interest.
Embracing the views of the CAA would contribute to meaningful change, four hundred years of Policing experience must count for something and the continual ‘Bloody minded’ attitude of Victoria Police towards the CAA is starting to look a little pathetic.