A program designed to keep young people out of remand significantly reduced the likelihood of custody, however, its limited reach meant few received the assistance they needed, according to a report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).
In its report, An evaluation of the youth Bail Assistance Line, BOCSAR said the NSW Bail Assistance Line was an after-hours helpline that assisted young people who were likely to be remanded by police to gain access to bail.
The Bureau said the Assistance Line could connect young people with accommodation, transport and other support services to help them satisfy the conditions of a bail order.
“The study found that the number of young people receiving bail through the Bail Assistance Line is low,” BOCSAR said.
“In the first half of 2019, the Bail Assistance Line placed 51 young people; or 9.4 per cent of the 542 cases that were bail denied by police or placed by the Bail Assistance Line,” it said.
“While the number of placements is low, the number of bail placements through the service has in fact more than doubled over the eight years from 2011.”
BOCSAR said young people helped by the Assistance Line were more likely to be female, non-Aboriginal defendants with shorter criminal histories and services were “strongly concentrated” in urban areas and Greater Sydney.
The Bureau said that while its reach was low, the study found positive outcomes for those assisted.
“In particular, in the six months after the bail decision, young people placed by the Bail Assistance Line were 16 per cent less likely to be incarcerated,” it said.
Executive Director of BOCSAR, Jackie Fitzgerald said expanding the Bail Assistance Line had the potential to increase the number of young people placed on bail.
“However, the impact depends on police engaging the Bail Assistance Line earlier in the bail process and police willingness to consider varying a young person’s bail determination,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
BOCSAR’s 32-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.