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Virus impacts Vic serious crime sentencing

The number of Victorians sentenced for serious offences while under a community corrections order has fallen to a five-year low due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the court system.

About 17 per cent fewer people serving CCOs were sentenced for serious offending in 2020/21 compared to the previous year, figures released by the Sentencing Advisory Council on Tuesday show.

Of the 483 people sentenced for serious offending, there were 640 charges issued – a 22.9 per cent decline on the year prior.

Threats to kill or injure and aggravated burglary were the most common types of serious offences committed.

Sentencing Advisory Council chair Arie Freiberg attributed the reduction to COVID-19 restrictions on the court system.

“It’s clear that the last two years have been challenging for the Victorian court system with the onset of COVID-19 and its attendant restrictions on day-to-day operations, and this is borne out in the reduced numbers of people sentenced for serious offending while serving a CCO,” he said.

The number of people who committed serious offences while on a combined order, serving both a CCO and a prison sentence, continues to rise.

In 2020/21 the figure increased to its highest level in four years, at 43.9 per cent up from 38.9 per cent in the previous year.

Professor Freiberg said this trend was troubling and could be addressed by providing those on combined orders with more targeted support or monitoring programs when they are released into the community.

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