Criminal Justice in Australia


The Australian Institute of Criminology has released and Trends and Issues paper entitled Attrition of human trafficking and slavery cases through the Australian criminal justice system. In the paper author, Samantha Lyneham, comments on the challenges police and prosecutors face while attempting to obtain a conviction for human trafficking and slavery offences. Globally the number of convictions remains low despite some upward trend in recent times. In Australia, while there were 462 victims referred to the Support for Trafficked People Program between 2014 and 30th June 2019 only 24 offenders were convicted. Challenges outlined include:

  • victim identification and cooperation
  • victim credibility and evidentiary difficulties
  • Complexity of legislation and lack of case law
  • Training, experience and exposure among criminal justice practioners

Lyneham concludes the paper by saying:

“Successful prosecution requires a variety of measures, including adequate national legislation, appropriate victim protection and support, appropriate training, and effective collaboration between investigators, prosecutors and victim support services. Investigators and prosecutors have considerable discretion over case progression and are required to weigh myriad factors at each stage of the criminal justice process. Determining and understanding the points of attrition can help shape strategies to improve criminal justice outcomes. To this end, a focus on victim engagement, specialist training and the breadth and quality of evidence may reduce the range of reasons that investigators and prosecutors decide to discontinue a case.”

Download a copy of the Trend and Issues paper here.

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