Delays for sexual violence jury trials are increasing - a statistic the Government is claiming shows success in clearing old cases but one the Greens label an indictment on the court system.

Figures provided to the Green Party show the longest period it has taken for a sexual violence jury trial to reach a conclusion - from the date charges are filed to their outcome - has gone from just over three years to four and a half years over the past six years.

The median length for trials to conclude has gone from 388 days to 459 days over the same period.

The information about sexual violence jury trials was provided in answer to a parliamentary question to Justice Minister Amy Adams from Green Party women's spokeswoman Jan Logie.


Ms Adams, in her answer, said the past two years had seen the Ministry of Justice pushing through old cases, meaning "the average age of cases being disposed of is increased".

Other factors affecting case length included the speed with which those involved prepared for hearings and the availability of lawyers and witnesses.

However, Ms Logie dismissed the minister's explanation and labelled the situation "unacceptable".

She said changes to the court system and cuts to legal aid had made it more difficult for cases to move through the courts. "The Government has made things worse for victims of sexual violence The changes they have made are slowing the system up."

Victims of sexual violence were retraumatised by long delays between charges being filed and the case being resolved, she said. "There is a permanent sense of insecurity and having to keep on dealing with it."

Ms Logie said the court issues were in contrast with National's support of funding for sexual violence social services. Courts acting deputy secretary Linda Biddle said the average age of trial cases was coming down - two months less by the end of 2014 compared with April 2013.

Ms Biddle said there had been an emphasis over the past two years on pushing through old cases first.

"Being involved in a criminal case is a distressing time for everyone, especially victims. We strive to keep everyone's time in the criminal system to a minimum."


Over the same period, the number of jury trials in sexual violence cases fell from 448 to 380.

Police prosecutions manager Inspector Gary Allcock said changes to the law through the Criminal Procedure Act saw more cases resolved before going to jury trial.

"In many cases this has led to earlier guilty pleas without having to subject victims to the stress of a trial." He said a decline in the crime rate could also explain fewer cases in the courts.