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Increase in serious harm cases before courts

29 May 2019

The number of active serious harm cases before the District Court has risen by 25.9% in the period between October 2017 and April 2019.

This is shown in information released by Justice Minister Andrew Little in response to a written parliamentary question from National MP Mark Mitchell.

Mr Little's response showed that at the end of October 2017 there were 17,189 active serious harm cases. This had risen to 18,484 at the end of October 2018 and to 21.645 at the end of April 2019.

The "serious harm cases" included Category 3 and Category 4 cases. While most Category 4 cases are transferred to the High Court after first appearance, the data used may include a few active Category 4 cases before the defendant's appearance.

The information was provided for each court, showing wide variances between courts. Active serious harm cases in Kaitaia District Court rose by 116% from 100 at the end of October 2017 to 216 at the end of April 2019. However, in nearby Kaikohe, the number of active cases rose by just 1.8% in the same period to 216.

Courts where the number of active serious harm cases showed a big increase included Taupo (up 98.5% to 133), Whangārei (up 49.3% to 509), Blenheim (up 48.7% to 171), Dunedin (up 48.1% to 576) and Christchurch (up 40.2% to 1956).

Small rises included Rotorua (no increase, to 454), Kaikohe (up 1.8% to 286), Gisborne (up 2.6% to 471) and Hastings (up 4.3% to 339).

Disposal time for Category 3 cases

In another question Mr Mitchell asked for the average time to dispose of category three cases in District Courts between October 2017 and April 2019.

Mr Little released information which showed that there has been a steady rise over that period in the average time for disposal. This has gone from 178 days between filing and disposal in the 12-month period ended October 2017 to 195 days in the 12-month period ended April 2019.

Again there is a wide variation between courts, ranging from an average of 296 days at Manukau District Court to 80 days at Waihi District Court.

Average days to dispose of Category Three cases in 12-month period ending each month
CourtOctober 2017April 2018October 2018April 2019
Total New Zealand178184189195

Last updated on the 16th September 2019