6 Oct 2011

Reform of way justice system treats children

8:46 am on 6 October 2011

Justice Minister Simon Power has announced a package of reforms that he says will change the way children are treated in the criminal justice system.

Mr Power says he was disturbed by research which found that 30% of children wept while testifying and 70% did not understand a question posed by a defence lawyer.

With the initial focus on children under 12, he says, a less inquisitorial system will be adopted, meaning that children will be "less battered by a full-on adversarial system when they're giving evidence in the court".

It's a very significant change, Mr Power says, "and it should be that way for children".

He says he hopes the average wait for a child victim or witness in the court system can be shortened from the current 15 months to a maximum of six months.

The changes will be included in legislation to be introduced to Parliament next year.