The West

$2.7m to clear weekend lockup
Out sooner: The Govt wants to get offenders out of weekend lockup. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

The Government is spending $2.7 million so antisocial offenders arrested on a Saturday night do not have to wait until Monday morning for bail, while the Supreme Court and corruption watchdog chase funds.

Many drunken louts arrested in Perth on a Saturday night have spent their hangovers stewing in Perth Watch House until the first chance to apply for bail on Monday morning.

The Government has allocated $900,000 a year for three years for a new Sunday magistrate's court, which is expected to process just 30 offenders a week at the new $93 million Perth Police Complex from July 6.

Under a Liberal election policy, dubbed "rapid justice", the Government argued up to 20 officers could be freed for front-line duties each weekend if suspects they were minding were put back on the street sooner.

It has since abandoned a night court component to the plan because of a lack of demand.

At a Budget estimates hearing last week, shadow attorney-general John Quigley asked why a special magistrate's court was being convened when police had power to grant bail for most petty offences.

Department of the Attorney-General director Cheryl Gwilliam, its executive director of court and tribunal services Ray Warnes and State Solicitor Paul Evans could not supply the answer.

Attorney-General Michael Mischin said it would be "inappropriate" to give the answer to the media before giving it to Parliament.

Supreme Court Judge John McKechnie recently warned that his caseload meant he may not have time to rule on whether to keep a convicted paedophile behind bars before his scheduled release date.

Mr Mischin said he was not convinced Justice McKechnie was complaining about resourcing.

The West Australian

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