Minister for Courts Andrew Little said that the government is funding more judges and justice-sector staff as it aims for a speedier District Court process and an improved criminal-justice experience for victims.
“The Wellbeing Budget allocates $54m over four years for the new judges. The funding will also cover the additional justice sector staff needed to ensure the judges can operate effectively,” Little said. “The additional judges will help manage the District Court's increasing workload, improving New Zealanders' ability to access justice and reducing the toll that delays can have on people’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This funding also supports victims of crime and their families by allowing them to have their day in court sooner.”
The courts minister said that the government’s commitment to reforming the criminal justice system aims for less offending and reoffending, as well as fewer victims of crime who are then better supported. He described the funding as a significant step in the planned reform.
“The District Court deals with more than 200,000 events a year and the cap on judiciary numbers has prevented the court from dealing effectively with the growing workload. Legislation passed straight after the Budget has lifted the cap accordingly,” Little said. “The Chief District Court Judge has a statutory responsibility to allocate judicial resources in the District Court, Family and Youth Courts and will work with the Ministry of Justice who support the courts to decide where additional judges will be most needed.”
The Wellbeing Budget also includes funding for specialist training for lawyers acting in sexual violence matters.