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Deadlines still not being met in the criminal justice chain

There are still many cases in several links in the criminal justice chain that are not processed within the prescribed deadlines. The areas investigated are the police, the superior prosecution authorities, the courts and the correctional services. This applies in particular to compliance with deadlines in cases involving young offenders.
Published 11/8/2008 2:00 PM

The Office of the Auditor General’s follow-up investigation into effectiveness in the criminal justice chain, Document No 3:13 (2007-2008), was submitted to the Storting on 11 September 2008. The document follows up a corresponding investigation in 2005.

The investigation shows that the targets for meeting case processing deadlines have only been achieved to a small extent for five of the nine deadlines investigated. This applies, among others, to young offenders, a group that the Storting has assumed will be given priority. Even though the deadlines may be exceeded out of consideration for the criminal investigation or other special circumstances, the failures to meet deadlines in cases involving young offenders are so great that the case processing time for this group should be further reduced.

In a considerable number of cases involving crimes of violence, the question of prosecution was not decided within the deadline of 90 days. ‘Even though we observe an improvement here in relation to the results from our previous investigation, there is still some way to go before the target is achieved,' says Auditor general Jørgen Kosmo. ‘These are very serious criminal cases and we must assume that the victims find this distressing. Swift clarification of the question of prosecution is therefore particularly important.’

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation also shows that more than half of those convicted in 2007 had to wait for more than 60 days from a final and legally binding judgment was received by the correctional service until they could begin to serve their sentences. In the Office of the Auditor General’s view, this is unfortunate for the convicted persons, the victims and for society at large. Convicted persons have a right to serve their sentences so that they, and their victims and their families, can put the case behind them.

The investigation also shows that there were large local variations in case processing times on the part of the police, the public prosecution authorities and the courts. ‘Of course, we must expect some local variation based on local conditions and experience,’ says Mr Kosmo. ‘However, we note that the local variations are big and that there will thereby be a certain risk of corresponding cases being treated differently.’

The Ministry of Justice and the Police agrees that the results are still inadequate in some areas, and the Ministry will devote great attention to the attainment of goals by the agencies in the time ahead.

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