Coffs-Clarence residents 20% more likely to commit crime

RESIDENTS of the Coffs-Clarence region are 20% more likely to face court on a criminal matter than the state average.

New state-wide criminal court statistics for 2014 showed the region was the seventh worst out of 28 statistical areas when it came to the issuing of domestic violence orders.

It also showed Coffs-Clarence had the fourth-highest rate of court appearances for drug offences, with residents 26.5% more likely than the state average to be facing drug charges.

The region had crime levels higher than the state average for its population size in all 16 crime categories except theft, break-and-enters, robberies and murder.

Bureau of Criminal Statistics and Research director Don Weatherburn said the figures showed an increase in the amount of time it took criminal trials to come before the courts.

The time from committal to outcome for people on bail increased 11% from 302 days in 2013 to 336 days last year. The time from arrest to finished court case for people in custody on remand rose 15% from 246 to 284 days.

"There are several factors contributing to delay in finalising trial cases in the District Criminal Court," Dr Weatherburn said. "Firstly, despite the overall drop in crime, the number of people arrested for serious offences, such as drug trafficking, has increased.

"Secondly, a higher proportion of persons arrested for serious offences are choosing to plead not guilty.

"Thirdly, perhaps in part because of the growth in cases involving drug trafficking, which often involve extensive tape-recorded evidence, trials are getting longer."

State Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said the data proved New South Wales was tougher on crime than Victoria and Queensland, with higher imprisonment rates for all offence categories.

NSW had a longer median head sentence, of 84 months, than both Victoria (36 months) and Queensland (72 months) for sexual assault of a child under 10.

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