Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wrongly imprisoned kids due compo: lawyer

From SMH, 28 December 2010:
Young people wrongly imprisoned as a result of computer glitches will be part of a class action suit to be filed against the NSW government.
Ben Slade, managing principal of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, is heading the suit against the state government.
He says young people are being wrongly imprisoned because of an apparent lack of communication between NSW's court-based computerised information system JusticeLink and the NSW police computer system COPS.
In some cases when a bail condition had expired, such as a curfew, police were not receiving this information and continuing to arrest juveniles they see as breaching the rules, he said.
"What we want in this class action is for the government to take it seriously. And we're calling upon the government to talk to us before we file this action and sort out number one: how the system's going to be fixed up so it does work, and number two: how these young people should be properly compensated for it," Mr Slade said.
The exact number of people who have been victims of this computer problem is not yet clear, so this will be an open class-action suit filing for anyone who has been affected, he said.
Mr Slade estimates there are "about four kids a week that this has been happening to for a couple of years", but some have had it happen to them more than once.
Repeated attempts by the public interest advocacy centre Children in Detention Advocacy Project had not been able to get the government to recognise the problem, he said, so it asked Maurice Blackburn to launch a class action.
Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said the computer problem was another example of the government's "incompetence".
"From the first time that a case was found against the government on this matter, steps should have been taken to resolve this issue and not simply allow it to drift, so that now the state potentially faces a class action which could cost taxpayers even more," he told reporters.
"At some stage taxpayers haveto be given a break from the incompetence of this state government."
Shadow Attorney-General Greg Smith said the cost of throwing innocent juveniles and adults into jail because of errors in the police computer system "that Labor has failed to fix", is borne by the taxpayer.
He also said class action for compensation also put "millions more taxpayers' dollars at risk".
"Police should be given access to the court computer system which contains updated accurate information. This is the logical solution which should have been implemented years ago, but the Keneally Labor government is more interested in looking tough than acting effectively against crime while protecting taxpayers," Mr Smith said.
"Apparently it matters little to the Keneally Labor government these wrongly arrested people are unnecessarily distressed by being deprived of their liberty and exposed to contact with hardened criminals."
He also said flaws in the state plan encouraged police to act like "bounty hunters" to fill a quota and that flaws in the Bail Act had also contributed to the problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment