The Final Report on Early Case Consideration of the Steering Committee on Justice Efficiencies and Access to the Justice System

G. Conclusion and Next Step

A point made repeatedly during the consultation process is that the Steering Committee's recommendations will only be effective if the criminal justice system is allocated adequate resources. Unrepresented accused tend to delay the resolution of cases. Adequate resources for legal aid are, therefore, clearly necessary. Adequate funding of the courts, prosecution services and police are equally important. Many of the delay reducing steps recommended by the Steering Committee are dependent on the availability of a reasonable number of judges, justices of the peace, prosecutors, legal aid counsel, court support workers and police officers. Moreover, the best system cannot work effectively if suitable court facilities are not available. Only if adequate resources are provided will the potential efficiencies identified in these recommendations be fully realized. Additional resources alone, however, will not bring about lasting change. Those in leadership positions in the criminal justice system must make change happen. Before any of the Steering Committee's recommendations are implemented, a more comprehensive and inclusive consultation process should be conducted. In the time available to it, the Early Case Consideration Subcommittee did not have an opportunity to consult widely. However, it did receive extremely valuable input from the individuals and organizations consulted.[36] The Law Amendments Committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, for example, made cogent submissions on the need for the court system to give greater consideration to the operational and financial consequences on the police of the additional legal, evidentiary and procedural requirements imposed by the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The committee pointed out that more selectivity by Crown counsel in tendering police evidence and greater use of police affidavit evidence would also free up officers for other duties and reduce overtime costs.

This report ends where it began, by observing that cases are taking too long to process in the front end of the criminal justice system. Limiting the number of remands and appearances and establishing timelines and clearly articulating expectations will result in more effective and efficient case processing. Performance measures should be established to articulate expectations for the criminal justice system.

The Steering Committee suggests that this report be referred to the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Deputy Ministers Responsible for Justice for their consideration.

[36] See Appendix B for a list of the individuals and organizations consulted

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