Demographic Projections of Demand for Criminal Court Services Across New South Wales, Australia
Chapter 5, David Swanson (ed) The Frontiers of Applied Demography, (Springer, 2016), Forthcoming
25 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2016 Last revised: 13 Oct 2016
Date Written: February 7, 2016
Demographic projections can provide an evidential basis for the assessment of the future demand for criminal court services and facilities, and the future need for related staff, such as judges and magistrates. This chapter assesses the implications of projected changes in the size, composition and geographical distribution of the population of New South Wales (Australia) for the volume and geospatial dimensions of crime-related court service provision. The method involves application of court appearance rates by age, sex and local area to projections of the population. The results illustrate the pivotal importance of uncertainty relating to whether recent general declines in court appearance rates will continue. Under the assumption of constant court appearance rates, total court appearances are projected to increase by 18 percent between 2012 and 2031. This is less than the 27 percent projected growth of the population, because of the concomitant increase in the share of older people, who have a lower propensity to appear before the courts. The projected percentage increases in court appearances are generally greater in Sydney, especially in Western and South-Western Sydney, whilst reductions are projected in regional New South Wales. In contrast under the assumption of a linear extrapolation of trends in court appearance rates since 2002, a 10 percent reduction in total court appearances between 2012 and 2031 is projected. The implications of the results for policies relating to court demand mitigation, judicial recruitment and retirement, judicial productivity, the provision of court infrastructure, and the geospatial dimensions of court service provision are discussed.
Keywords: Population projections, courts, service provision, age-crime curve, crime trends, workforce planning, applied demography, Australia
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