A dedicated court to deal with drug users, detoxification and rehabilitation facility in Western NSW and the scourge of domestic violence were among the topics Attorney-General Mark Speakman spoke to Dubbo residents about when he visited the city on Friday.
To discuss issues of importance, Mr Speakman met with representatives from the Orana Law Society, Aboriginal Legal Service, NSW Police, Orana Support Service and Legal Aid NSW.
He said he was impressed by how united different groups from across the city were in their determination to improve the lives of local residents.
Ensuring the community is safe is the government's number one priority, he said.
"I will be driven by evidence of what works," Mr Speakman told the Daily Liberal.
"It's not driven by being punitive on the one hand or lenient on the other, it's what is most effective according to the evidence, to drive crime down.
"Stopping crime isn't always or mostly about locking people up.
"The old saying is 'prevention is better than cure'."
Thank you Orana Support Services and Dubbo #WDVCAS for hosting discussions on #homelessness and the impact of domestic and family violence in Dubbo and #WesternNSW.— Mark Speakman (@MarkSpeakman) August 16, 2019
Services that provide refuges, crisis accommodation, case management and other programs are invaluable. pic.twitter.com/rsA6MORqEh
Mr Speakman said he was looking closely at ways to stop crime before it happened.
"Once someone goes to jail there's a 50 per cent chance they're going to reoffend in 12 months," he said.
When asked about about concerns Legal Aid lawyers who defend some of the community's most disadvantaged were not being paid fairly, Mr Speakman defended the government's record.
"State Legal Aid funding has increased by at least 50 per cent since 2011," he claimed.
"Arrest rates and court appearances and jail sentences are increasing because police are better at catching more people... that puts pressure on the whole justice system, it puts pressure on Legal Aid."
The government is reviewing a request for increased Legal Aid funding, he said.
A Supreme Court Justice has called for "urgent" action last month after Legal Aid funding constraints delayed a murder trial until 2020 because defence barristers refused to accept low legal aid rates of pay.