A court program that links participants to support services to reduce re-offending is close to capacity in Ballarat.
The Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) is regularly used by alleged offenders in Ballarat while they are in the community on bail.
The program links participants to services that address their underlying issues such as addiction, poor mental health, lack of housing and family violence.
Magistrates often take into account the availability of the CISP to support an alleged offender in considering whether to grant them bail.
The Courier has heard a number of defence lawyers say their clients could not access the CISP program to support an application for bail throughout the past fortnight, as they were told the program was at capacity in Ballarat until October.
A court spokesperson told The Courier in a statement CISP Ballarat was currently close to capacity, but participants were still being accepted into the program on referral from a magistrate.
Each client on CISP has a case manager who assesses their immediate needs and works with referral agencies to provide the necessary support based on an individual plan.
The number of active cases assigned to each case manager is capped.
Participants spend an average of four months enrolled in CISP and due to the sometimes cyclical nature of rehabilitation, clients may regularly enter and exit the program.
A court spokesperson said the Ballarat CISP team currently had one position vacant.
"Magistrates' Court of Victoria (MCV) has recently undertaken a recruitment process to fill that vacancy and a new case manager will be starting in the near future," they said.
"MCV regularly assesses the case load in each of our regions to determine how demand can be most effectively managed, and is currently exploring further options to assist with the demand at Ballarat."
The Courier understands demand for the CISP program had been particularly high throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as an increased number of alleged offenders were applying for bail due to delays to court cases.
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