People smuggling cases clog courts

ACCUSED people smugglers are clogging up courts and jails across NSW.

Already this year to February, NSW has spent more than $8.5 million on 102 inmates held on remand or in custody for people smuggling.

A further 60 trials are expected to proceed across the state this year at a cost of more than $5 million.

Most were transferred to NSW's jurisdiction after being arrested for offences that allegedly occurred offshore

Attorney General Greg Smith said the burden on State taxpayers is set to blow out dramatically.

This has prompted the O'Farrell Government to call on the Gillard Government to help meet the cost.

"While the Commonwealth spent more than $1.7 billion on combating people smuggling in 2010-11, it has not shared any of that money with the States and Territories for the trials that follow," Mr Smith said.

He said the delays caused by people smuggling trials could adversely affect the rights of victims and defendants in other prosecutions.

People smugglers face a mandatory sentence of five years in jail with three years' non-parole.

In NSW, the average people smuggling trial takes 11 days at an estimated cost of $85,000.

The State expects there will continue to be 60 trials per year - most involving multiple defendants - at an annual cost to taxpayers of more than $5 million.


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