Cross-border justice: for legal professionals


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

Magistrates and Local Court judges with cross-border authority are based in Alice Springs, Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta.

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

All of the following have authority in the three jurisdictions:

  • 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.

Inter-governmental agreement

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

Parts 4 and 5 state that parties agree to give effect to the model bill and regulations and to maintain uniformity of the core premises of the bill and regulations.

Part 6 covers the appointment of cross-border magistrates that requires the agreement of key stakeholders in the home jurisdiction of the magistrate.

Parts 8 and 9 relate to changes, termination and withdrawal from the agreement.

Part 10 says the parties agree to a review of the scheme no later than three years after the commencement of the first act enacted in accordance with Part 4.

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

The service level agreement includes all of the following:

  • 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

Agreement objective

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

Part D states that a prisoner held on a warrant may be held in prison or on remand in any of the jurisdictions.

A prisoner and their sentence are both managed under the legislation in the jurisdiction in which the prisoner is located. 

The prison sentence remains unchanged regardless of the jurisdiction in which the prisoner serves his or her sentence. 

The parole authority in the jurisdiction in which the offence was committed is responsible for making decisions about parole. 

Parts 6 to 14 of the agreement

Part 6 refers to the responsibilities of home and location authorities to communicate and calculate sentence details.

Part 7 refers to remandees in custody prior to sentencing. The prisoner's views are to be sought by a correctional services officer who will take those views into account in a placement decision.

Part 8 says that when a person is remanded on a cross-border remand warrant they will be taken to the court location in which they were remanded, unless listed for a trial or committal when they would be taken to the home jurisdiction. 

If the possibility of an alleged offence identified by the court could result in a custodial sentence and could be served in another jurisdiction, there is to be a discussion to see if an agreement can be reached. If not, serving of the whole sentence is to occur in the court location where the prisoner has been sentenced.

Part 10 says that in relation to prisoner transfers, the sending authority has the responsibility to organise transport and it is expected that transport details and arrangements will be made according to protocols. The sending authority is expected to forward electronically all necessary records as soon as practicable, and files and property are to be sent within seven working days. Confirmation of the reception of prisoners is to be sent by email.

Parts 11 through 14 outline conditions for serving a sentence after:

  • 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

Parts 15 to 17 refer to information management, the reporting of significant incidents and the exchange of information between jurisdictions.

Parts 18 through to 22 identify the following:

  • 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.       

Parts 23, 24 and 25 outline the process for dispute resolution between jurisdictions, change and termination of the agreement and the requirements for withdrawing from the agreement.

Three prisons in the cross-border region are named in the agreement:

  • 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

The cross-border community corrections committee was established as part of the agreement, and comprises regional managers from the three jurisdictions. It meets as required to monitor and coordinate the operation of community corrections cross-border services. 

Participating jurisdictions agree to report to the committee on the number of offenders being supervised under different categories of supervision orders and to raise any issues for consideration and resolution.

Central to the service level agreement is the appointment of authorised officers by each of the community correction agencies. These officers are, where practicable, authorised to provide assistance to cross-border courts and provide assessment, monitoring and supervision of interstate offenders and defendants.

Parts 6 to 14 of the agreement

Part 6.2 says that the cross-border legislation authorises community corrections officers in each jurisdiction to supervise and generally deal with interstate offenders and defendants from anywhere within the cross-border region.

Part 7 says that it is not the intention of the agreement that the authorised officers will provide services to those courts outside of their jurisdiction.

Part 8 says the authorising officers are to be supervised and disciplined under the existing management structure. 

Part 9 says that where practicable, the officers are to attend sittings of cross-border magistrates in their jurisdiction.

Parts 10 and 11 refer to information management including records management and the exchange of information that has to be in compliance with the law and cross-border legislation. It is agreed that staff in the region are to maintain regular contact and share information on current activities, issues and opportunities for collaboration.

Part 12 says that when an offender is being supervised in a participating jurisdiction, the authorising officers are responsible for ensuring that the home state is informed of the supervised offender's progress.

Part 13 covers circumstances that result in the supervision of interstate orders. These include where an offender:

  • 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.

The supervising agency must provide rehabilitation services in accordance with the standard practice and policy of the home agency, but subject to the availability and practicality of providing such services.

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.

The community corrections agency in the jurisdiction where the cross-border magistrate sits is to meet all reasonable costs to facilitate the above.

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.

Part 17 says that where an offender is being released from a participating jurisdiction, the officers are expected to assist home state agencies prepare parole reports and with pre-release planning, and with the variation, revocation or suspension of parole orders (Part 18).

Wherever practicable, prior to crossing a border of another participating jurisdiction to perform actions, the officers are to inform the community corrections agency in that jurisdiction.

Part 19 refers to community service orders, work orders or work and development orders, and that a home state agency may approach a community corrections agency in another jurisdiction to see if the offenders can perform requirements for such orders in the other state. 

Part 20 covers costs to be met by the supervising agency unless separate arrangements are made. The date and time of any offender travel interstate is to be worked out in consultation with proposed supervising agency.

Part 23 says that every 12 months a review is to occur to see whether the agreement needs to be amended to include cost-sharing arrangements. The cross-border community corrections services are to be reviewed at the same time as the review of the scheme and a longer term evaluation may include data on re-offending and compliance rates and the availability of rehabilitation, education and training programs in each jurisdiction.

Part 24 says that each community corrections agency must ensure staff are trained and resourced to perform functions under the cross-border legislation.

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.

The service level agreement is between seven government juvenile justice agencies:

  • 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.

Agreement principles

The principles underpinning the agreement echo the aims of the Cross-border Justice Scheme found in the inter-government agreement. The best interests of young people are key considerations and decisions made by parties to the service level agreement should comply with the applicable act of the home state.

Acts include:

  • 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

Part 4 outlines the circumstances in which officers will act with respect to an interstate offence:

  • 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.

In Part 5, it is agreed that officers authorised by or under cross-border laws will be made available to provide assistance to cross-border magistrates and to monitor and supervise interstate offenders.

Authorised officers are to attend all sittings of the cross-border magistrates within their own state when a juvenile is appearing before the court. The juvenile justice authorised officers of other states are to cooperate with the home state in implementing any decision to breach court-ordered conditions of a juvenile being supervised in the other state, and where practicable the officer is to attend breach applications before the cross-border magistrates in the relevant state.

Part 6 says it is agreed that the supervision and discipline procedures for juvenile justice officers and youth justice conference coordinators are the responsibility of the state agency under which they hold primary office or position.

Record management

Part 9 says the home state is responsible for record management and criminal justice data related to the offence and associated activities and events, and exchange of information is agreed to that is required to facilitate the scheme and where it adheres to privacy laws and practices of their state and cross-border laws.


The allocation of jurisdictional responsibilities are agreed to for the various processes or events that juvenile justice personnel are involved in:

  • 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
  • transportation
  • court reports requested by the cross-border magistrate
  • reports to supervised release review board.


Parts 10 to 19 cover the training centre review board and parole board and say that the onus is on home state staff to provide written instructions to the other state.

With conferencing, the legislative requirements of the home state apply but other operating practices and standards of the state convening the conference are to be employed, subject to the agreement of the home state. Non-compliance with a caution and conference outcomes are to be communicated to the home state.

Home state's role

The home state and supervising authority are to liaise with regards to the supervision and compliance with conditions imposed by a cross-border magistrate, in circumstances where the young person normally resides or should reside in one of the other states, or is placed on an order and moves, or is released from detention and is living in one of the other states.

The home state is to be notified in writing of any breaches of court conditions, to enable the home state authority to make a decision about any further action.

Court-ordered detention

With court-ordered detention, the decisions on the location of the detention, which are to be decided administratively, are to be based on the best interests of the young person above all considerations. Factors to consider include:

  • normal place of residence
  • access to treatment, family or support people
  • preferences of parents or guardians
  • expressed preference of the young person.

If a young person is on remand or in police detention, it is agreed that the responsibility for transportation lies with the state in which the young person is detained, and that the state needs to consult with the authority in the other state about the intent to transport and availability of placement.

New programs

Part 20 makes it clear that new programs apply only within that state’s borders and the other states are to be notified. It is agreed that any such new programs will become operational across the region only when there is written agreement between the states on operational practice and protocols.

Monitoring committee

Part 21 establishes the juvenile justice monitoring committee to monitor and assess. It meets every six months or more frequently if agreed.


Part 22 says that states bear their own costs unless otherwise agreed and training is the responsibility of each relevant government agency to ensure staff are trained and resourced to perform functions in accordance with the cross-border laws.

Part 23 says that each state is to maintain a record of direct costs so that the committee can review costs and determine whether there should be cost-sharing.

Cross-border domestic violence intelligence desk

The main tasks of this unit are:

  • 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)

Policy coordination
Jamie Orr
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

Western Australia

Liz Perkins
Principal Policy Officer
Policy and Aboriginal Services 
Department of the Attorney General
Phone: (08) 9264 1057
Fax: (08) 9264 1957

South Australia

Strategic Planning
Stephen Brock 
Acting coordinator
Attorney-General's Department and Department of Justice
Level 2, 44 Pirie Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000
Phone: (08) 8226 4315 

Legislation information

You can get information about scheme legislation from the following websites:

NT legislation

Cross-Border Justice Act 2009

Cross-Border Justice Regulations 2009

Current Northern Territory legislation database

South Australian legislation

Cross Border Justice Act 2009

Cross-Border Justice Regulations Act 2009

South Australian legislation

Western Australia legislation

Cross Border Justice Act 2008

Cross-Border Justice Regulations Act 2009

Western Australian legislation