The Ministry of Legal Affairs budget allocation for fiscal year 2013/14 is $27.37 million, a $837,000 increase from last year, Attorney General Mark Pettingill said today [Feb 28].
This budget allocation primarily reflects expenditure for salaries and operating expenses within the Ministry. The 2013/14 budget is allocated as follows: Ministry of Legal Affairs HQ $7.36 million, Judicial Dept. $8.36 million, Attorney General’s Chambers $4.28 million, Dept. of Court Services $4.37 million, Dept. Public Prosecutions $2.99 million.
Mr Pettingill’s full statement follows below:
The Ministry of Legal Affairs has as its mandate “to uphold the constitution and legal system of Bermuda including the provision of legal services, the efficient delivery of justice and accessibility thereto”.
To deliver on this mandate, the Ministry budget allocation for fiscal year 2013/14 is twenty-seven million, three hundred and seventy-seven thousand dollars ($27,377,000) which represents an eight hundred and thirty seven thousand dollar ($837,000) increase over fiscal year 2012/13. 2
This budget allocation primarily reflects expenditure for salaries and operating expenses within the Ministry. However, our policy objectives reflect a shared prioritization to implement measures to protect the public from violent offenders and to simultaneously ensure the fair and proper administration of justice.
The 2013/14 budget is allocated as follows:
- Head 87 – Ministry of Legal Affairs HQ $7,360,000
- Head 03 – Judicial Dept. $8,360,000
- Head 04 – Attorney General’s Chambers $4,286,000
- Head 74 – Dept. of Court Services $4,378,000
- Head 75 – Dept. Public Prosecutions $2,993,000
Ministry of Legal Affairs Headquarters – Head 87
Legal Affairs Headquarters will continue to direct policy implementation and oversee departmental administrative operations within the Ministry. In particular, the Legal Aid scheme, with an increased budget allocation of two million, four hundred and thirty-one dollars ($2,431,000), will continue to provide access to justice to persons who would not otherwise be able to afford legal representation.
The National Anti-money Laundering regime will be bolstered by funding allocated to a National Co-ordinator post to co-ordinate and oversee implementation of the national plan to combat money laundering 3 and terrorist financing. In addition, funding in the amount of two hundred and forty-thousand dollars ($240,000) has been allocated toward the continuation of the Electronic Monitoring program, commenced as a one year pilot program during fiscal 2011/12.
This program has proven to be an additional tool to effectively monitor offenders and is used by both the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Public Safety. Ministry Headquarters will also move on the Government’s mandate of job creation by hiring two Pupil Barristers, enabling them to qualify for admission to the Bermuda Bar upon successful completion of a 12 month pupillage.
Also included in Ministry Headquarters budget allocation is funding for a Parliamentary Counsel attached to the Law Reform Commission. The Law Reform Commission’s principal functions include keeping the laws of Bermuda under constant review with a view to making the laws more responsive to the needs of Bermudian society, removing anomalies and improving the quality of the dispensation of Justice.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs portfolio has been expanded by the addition of Consumer Affairs, increasing the budget allocation by Eight Hundred and Twenty-thousand dollars ($820,000). The mission of Consumer Affairs is to protect the rights of consumers by ensuring a fair and equitable market, fair trade practices, product safety and redress by maintaining an international viewpoint, a spirit of partnership through collaboration, the provision of information to the public and where necessary, enforcement.
Judicial Department – Head 03
The Judicial Department will continue to administer the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme within the allocated budget of four hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars ($437,000). This scheme provides for compensation to those injured as a result of violent crime. Security also remains a vital consideration within the courts.
Consequently, the budget allocation of four hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars ($485,000) will be utilized during the upcoming budget year to provide both physical and electronic security to Supreme and Magistrates Court, while we perform a review of all security measures to determine the most cost effective way to maintain adequate protection for the public as well as Court staff.
Attorney General’s Chambers – Head 04
As the demand on the Attorney-General’s Chambers for legal services continues to increase, one million, seven hundred and forty thousand dollars ($1,740,000) has been included in the upcoming budget allocation to provide for a fully staffed Civil/Advisory section, inclusive of suitably qualified Crown Counsel and administrative staff.
In addition, Chambers will continue to produce legislation quickly and accurately using the Legislative Information Management System (LIMS) which is customized to our Bermuda drafting style with an allocated budget of one hundred and twentysix thousand dollars ($126,000).
Department of Court Services – Head 74
A pilot programme for the Mental Health Treatment Court Programme at a cost of Twenty-nine thousand dollars ($29,000) has been established to provide a treatment team-centered approach to this specialized offender group.
This programme will afford more therapeutic intervention and the reduction of recidivism for mentally ill offenders with clearly defined criteria for entrance into the programme. It will ensure the delivery of treatment through assessment, treatment and intensive case management in a team oriented and team supervised setting.
To address the challenges in enforcing conditions of Probation and Parole Orders the Department of Court Services will enhance regimes that augment deliverables through effective case management services, revised Operations Manuals, as well as enhanced treatment programmes to hold offenders and system stakeholders to greater account to minimize offending behaviours, and espouse the protection of the community.
In addition, we will work closely with stakeholders through the Victory Programme offering services aimed at saving 6 our young people and families. Eight-five thousand dollars ($85,000) is budgeted toward this end. The Victory Programme is a collaborative response by the Department of Court Services and the Department of Child & Family Services to address intricate issues which face individuals and families with multi-faceted issues in Bermuda, including gang matters, which are impacting on all of us in some way.
The purpose of the collaborative is to strategize and coordinate the activities of the departments, identify needs; develop linkages with stakeholders; promote action plans; address gaps; and promote greater networking, collaboration and consolidated responses throughout Government.
Department of Public Prosecutions – Head 75
The Department’s goal for fiscal year 2013/14 is to continue to uphold the rule of law in the administration of justice in Bermuda and thereby assist in the maintenance of law and order.
The Director of Public Prosecutions is vested with powers under the constitution of Bermuda to institute and undertake proceedings against any person before the courts of Bermuda in respect to any law in force in Bermuda.
For fiscal year 2013/14 the Department of Public Prosecutions will ensure that fair and effective appeals are undertaken in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court; effectively manage trials in the Supreme Court and Magistrates’ Court; undertake other hearings in all courts; and continue to ensure a high level of prosecutions.
Under the supervision of the Director of Public Prosecutions, successful prosecution of offences is enhanced via the Witness Care Unit which is responsible for providing information and support to all victims and witnesses.
With an allocated budget of one hundred and forty two thousand dollars ($142,000), the Witness Care Unit will continue to ensure that witnesses/victims are informed and positively engaged throughout the trial process. The Unit will ensure that witnesses will see the court before hand and, when required, learn about court procedures.
The aim for 2013/14 is to increase Victim Impact Statements and accelerate and/or enhance the support provided to victims and witnesses thereby increasing victims/witness attendance at court. In doing this, the Department of Public Prosecutions will increase successful prosecutions and criminal cases will not fail due to the reluctance of witnesses/victims to give their evidence fully.
The measures that have been detailed will further strengthen the administrative and legislative framework which underpins the Legal Affairs mandate. We will maintain our proactive approach and commitment to the implementation of effective measures aimed at addressing criminal activity and enhancing the administration of justice within the fiscal parameters of the 2013/14 budget allocation.