This section has information about the Cross-border Justice Scheme.
The scheme applies across borders between three jurisdictions - the Northern Territory (NT), South Australia and Western Australia.
When the scheme is used
The scheme applies to all persons for any of the following situations that are also known as triggers:
- the offence is alleged to have taken place in the region
- an offender was apprehended in the region
- an alleged offender normally resides in the region.
Read more about the cross border justice scheme on the Northern Territory Government website.
What the scheme allows
A court must apply the laws of the jurisdiction where the offence is alleged or took place.
Cross-border magistrates can hear matters committed in any of the three jurisdictions that meet at least one of the triggers.
Police officers are appointed to apprehend and transport offenders, property, exhibits and witnesses across the relevant borders.
Site users should note the relevant service level agreement and legislation for details.
Cross-border law enforcement and authority
Cross-border laws are enforced according to where the offence took place. If it took place in the NT and the offender was apprehended in South Australia for example, the offender is prosecuted according to NT laws.
The laws have no impact on other Australian jurisdictions.
Each of the three jurisdictions retains its sovereignty and laws.
Extradition warrants are unnecessary as allowed by Commonwealth laws.
Cross-border authority of magistrates
These Magistrates and judges are appointed by the Chief Magistrate or Chief Judge of the Local Court in each jurisdiction and sworn in by a Supreme Court judge.
Cross-border authority of officers
- police officers
- prison officers
- probation and parole officers
- juvenile justice staff
- other community corrections workers.
Evaluation of the scheme
The Cross-border Justice Scheme was independently evaluated in 2012 and 2013.
You can request copies of the evaluations from the contacts listed in this section.
Agreements by the signatories
The three signatories agreed to do all of the following:
- provide an efficient and effective service, regardless of borders
- assist in addressing community safety issues by ensuring a responsive justice system
- take into account the difficult position of victims of crime
- provide a shared use of facilities
- facilitate expeditious resolution of prosecutions.
Parts of the agreement
Police memorandum of understanding
Police services in the three jurisdictions can operate outside their home jurisdiction within the cross border region.
Police officers are individually appointed when they are based in the region and hold all necessary powers for all three jurisdictions.
This flexibility builds capacity and promotes timely responses to emergencies and criminal activity.
Flexible arrangements include all of the following:
- each police service retains primary responsibility for the provision of police services within their own borders
- each police service will:
- provide assistance to neighbouring jurisdictions in an emergency if requested
- conduct joint operations
- enforce the legislation of the state or territory where the offence occurs when an offender has moved to a host state. The reciprocal applies
- charge the offender at the nearest location where detention facilities exist
- prosecute offenders or lay charges arising from within neighbouring jurisdictions
- manage prisoner delivery from one participating jurisdiction to another
- emergency responses, extraordinary incidents, investigative action and prosecution, including prosecution costs
- bail arrangements, detainee location and transfer, deaths in custody and other custody incidents
- communication, media, information sharing, including sharing of information about incidence of offending, victims and offenders and freedom of information applications and subpoenas
- staffing issues and capacity, as well as who has the authority to agree to specific activities
- a cross-border police committee and agreement to hold regular meetings and report on costs quarterly.
Court service agreement
Courts covered by the agreement
The Chief Magistrates of the three jurisdictions approved the agreement. The courts covered by the agreement include:
- Courts of Summary Jurisdiction and the Youth Justice Court of the Northern Territory
- the Magistrates Court and Children’s Court of Western Australia
- the Magistrates Court and Youth Court of South Australia.
What the agreement includes
- operational and practical issues of conducting court in another jurisdiction
- outline of protocols for the provision of cross-border court services, such as interpreters, witness support, handling of appeals and youth court cases
- clarifies that there is no collection of fines, fees or costs under laws of another state, and that magistrates may use facilities in another state at no cost
- the role of the registrars, including:
- provision of information on court circuits in the region and forms for sittings of cross-border magistrates
- coordinate cross-border cases
- updates on changes to procedure, legislation and forms
- information on the cross-border court services committee that is made up of registrars and that meets quarterly to monitor and coordinate the operation of cross-border court services.
Prison services memorandum of understanding
The objective of the agreement is to deal promptly and effectively with prisoners who should be neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by the agreement.
Prisoners and sentences
Parts 6 to 14 of the agreement
- breach or revocation of parole
- the release of prisoners to their home community
- parole notification to the local authority by the relevant jurisdiction
- orders concerning the appearance of prisoners in court.
Parts 15 to 25 of the agreement
- requirements for the evaluation and review of the prison services memorandum of understanding
- the training of staff
- cost sharing arrangements between jurisdictions
- membership and reporting by the cross borders prions committee
- contact officers with correspondence protocols.
- Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison in Western Australia
- Alice Springs Correctional Centre in the NT
- Port Augusta Prison in South Australia.
Community corrections agreement
Cross-border corrections committee
Parts 6 to 14 of the agreement
- is sentenced by a cross-border magistrate for an interstate offence
- is on an order that she or he normally reside or should reside in another jurisdiction
- moves to another state
- is released from prison or police custody and will be living in another jurisdiction
- is a defendant who is being released on bail conditions that require supervision.
Part 14 covers pre-sentence assessments and reports and agrees that community residence is to be decided administratively. The assessment is to consider community residence that will offer the most support and best prospects for the offender completing the order. Factors that are listed for consideration for community of residence include:
- the location and the views of victims
- a person's normal place of residence
- access to any treatment
- preference of family or community elders
- access to family and/or support people, and expressed preference of offenders.
Parts 15 to 24 of the agreement
Part 15 says that wherever possible, officers are to attend court hearings of breaches of supervised orders before cross-border magistrates. With the variation or breach of supervision orders the supervising state is responsible for initiating both. But in terms of prosecuting the breach of an order, the supervising state collaborates with and supports the home state.
Part 16 covers the circumstances for the supervision of parole and re-entry released orders in Western Australia and includes sentencing by a cross-border magistrate, being released under such orders, and living in one of the participating jurisdictions or where she/he moves to another participating jurisdiction. The overall management is specified to be the home state agency but parole authorities have to approve the formal transfers of parole orders.
Juvenile justice service level agreement
Youth justice in the Northern Territory is the responsibility of Territory Families. NT Correctional Services no longer manages youth detention.
- Department of Families and Communities, South Australia
- South Australia Police
- Court Administration Authority South Australia
- NT Correctional Services
- NT Police
- Department of Corrective Services, Western Australia
- Western Australia Police.
- the Youth Justice Act 2006 NT section 4
- Young Offenders Act 1993 South Australia section 3
- Young Offenders Act 1994 Western Australia sections 6, 7 and 8.
Actions by officers
- where the alleged offence has been committed in the cross-border region
- where a juvenile or young person has been arrested or reported in the cross- border region
- where a juvenile or young person ordinarily resides in the region
- where a juvenile or young person was dealt with by a cross-border magistrate on other matters arising from any of the states.
- cautioning, conferencing, supervision and compliance with conditions of a sentence imposed by a cross-border magistrate
- breach of court orders
- court ordered detention
- remand or police detention
- court reports requested by the cross-border magistrate
- reports to supervised release review board.
Home state's role
- normal place of residence
- access to treatment, family or support people
- preferences of parents or guardians
- expressed preference of the young person.
Cross-border domestic violence intelligence desk
- the identification and ongoing monitoring of high risk cross-border domestic violence offenders and victims
- regular dissemination of persons of interest documents and other reports related to domestic offending in the cross-border area
- creation of full offender profiles
- undertaking requests for information for police from jurisdictions and external service agencies
- registration of domestic violence orders across jurisdictions
- supplying of information and intelligence to the family safety framework
- co-ordination between jurisdictions and supporting officers with relevant matters
- dissemination of monthly outstanding cross-border warrants reports.
Contacts and legislation details
Cross-border Justice Scheme contacts
Northern Territory (NT)
Senior policy officer
NT Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
Phone: (08) 8951 5446
Fax: (08) 8951 5442
Cross-border domestic violence intelligence desk
Northern Territory Police - Alice Springs
Phone: (08) 8985 8338
Mobile: 0428 391 636
Principal Policy Officer
Policy and Aboriginal Services
Department of the Attorney General
Phone: (08) 9264 1057
Fax: (08) 9264 1957
Attorney-General's Department and Department of Justice
Level 2, 44 Pirie Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000
Phone: (08) 8226 4315
You can get information about scheme legislation from the following websites: