Infrastructure Victoria has today recommended greater integration of justice and human services, introducing a new police hotline for non-urgent calls, new courts in growth areas and new police station supersites, as part of the draft of the state’s first ever 30-year infrastructure strategy.
The independent authority’s draft strategy lays out a pipeline of new and expanded infrastructure alongside policies and reforms to get more out of existing infrastructure – such as integrated planning and system-wide case management.
Infrastructure Victoria Chief Executive Michel Masson said the recommendations addressed challenges facing police, courts and the justice system – such as maintenance backlogs and poor ICT infrastructure – but also sought to integrate justice facilities with human services.
“The draft strategy recommends that justice facilities – such as courts and police stations – should be jointly planned and integrated with human services, such as family violence, mental health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services,” he said.
“This would require joint planning when facilities are refurbished or built and would ensure the best outcomes for both victims and offenders,” Mr Masson said.
Infrastructure Victoria has also recommended Victoria Police should transition towards ‘hub and spoke’ network of police supersites, a model proposed in the Victoria Police Blue Paper in 2013.
“Police supersites would be one-stop-shop facilities with a greater emphasis on crime prevention. The priority would be to rollout police supersites in growth areas such as Wyndham and Werribee and replace local police stations in Melbourne’s south-east where there are too many stations too close together,” he said.
Mr Masson said this initiative was not recommended for rural and remote locations.
The draft strategy also recommends improving access to police through new communication channels such a call centre for non-emergency matters and online platforms so the public can access police without the need to visit a station.
“Our recommendations would free up police resources to provide better services,” Mr Masson said.
Key recommendations include:
- Creating a non-emergency police hotline for the public
- Building new or refurbishing courts in Melbourne’s growth areas such as Melton and regional centres including Bendigo and Geelong, with the aim for these to be integrated justice precincts
- Developing a justice case management ICT system to be rolled out across the criminal justice system
- Reviewing and removing barriers to introducing dispute resolution technology by the private sector, improving access to justice and enabling cases to be diverted from the courts
- Addressing maintenance backlogs in the state’s busiest courts
- Refurbishing Melbourne’s CBD courts to enable court houses to be used as multi-jurisdictional facilities
Infrastructure Victoria has not recommended building new or expanded prisons, but has recommended a new or expanded high security psychiatric hospital as Thomas Embling has reached capacity.
“Recent government investment has addressed the need for further prison places in the short term, and our priority in developing the 30-year strategy has been on finding ways to avoid people ending up in our prison system,” Mr Masson said.
Feedback on the draft strategy will inform the final strategy, which will be delivered to Parliament in December.
To read the draft strategy and supporting technical documents, or provide feedback, visit the consultation website. The consultation period closes on 31 October 2016.
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