Ombudsman investigates treatment of a woman found unfit to stand trial

 
Monday 12 February 2018
 
The Victorian Ombudsman is seeking information from legal and community organisations and the public, to assist her investigation into the treatment of a woman found unfit to stand trial.
 
Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the investigation began when concerns were raised with her office by the Public Advocate about the treatment of the woman, who has a significant developmental disorder but spent 18 months in jail awaiting final orders. “We were told the woman would have been released if she had housing and supports in the community,” Ms Glass said.
 
“We are investigating whether her conditions in prison were humane and met her complex needs, and whether appropriate steps were taken by authorities to find her more suitable accommodation,” she said.
 
“We are also examining whether the issues raised by this case are isolated or systemic. We are keen to receive submissions, including recent case examples, regarding the treatment of people who have been found unfit to stand trial but spent significant time in prison.”
 
The Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) provides that a court must not remand or commit a person who has been found unfit to stand trial to custody in a prison unless it is satisfied there is no practicable alternative in the circumstances.
 
Anyone with relevant information or case examples can make a submission by email at investigation@ombudsman.vic.gov.au or by phone on 9613 6222 by Friday 23 March 2018.
 
Please note: As this investigation is only in its early stages, Ms Glass is not available for interview.
 
Media contact: Ainslie Gowan Tel 03 9613 6235 | Mob 0409 936 235 vomedia@ombudsman.vic.gov.au
 
Further information: Tel 03 9613 6222 | Regional 1800 806 314 | ombudvic@ombudsman.vic.gov.au | Follow @VicOmbudsman