Police Bail and Risk of Re-offending

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Release date: 4 May, 2011, Embargo: 10.30am

Suggestions that police often refuse bail to juvenile offenders who are at low risk of re-offending are not supported by evidence, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The Bureau calculated the risk of re-offending amongst sample of 23,667 juveniles, 6,896 of whom had been remanded in custody by police and 16,771 of whom had been granted bail by police between January 2007 and December 2009.

It then compared the risk of re-offending among juveniles refused bail by police to the risk of re-offending among juveniles granted by police.

The results of the study showed that almost all juvenile defendants refused bail by police are at high risk of re-offending. In fact some of those granted bail by police are also at high risk of re-offending.

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that they showed that police were not overly disposed to refusing bail to juveniles they charge with criminal offences.

"Nor should the fact that police sometimes grant bail to high-risk juvenile offenders be construed as evidence that they are breaching their obligations under the Bail Act.

"Police must weigh the risk of a juvenile offending on bail against the risks and costs associated with placing an unconvicted juvenile in custody who may not end up being convicted and who, even if convicted, may not receive a custodial sentence."

"It is important to bear in mind that bail refusal is not the only way of dealing with young people charged with criminal offences who are judged to be at risk of further offending".

"Other options include placing them under the care and supervision of their parents or placing them in supported accommodation under the supervision of officers from the Department of Juvenile Justice."

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn. Ph. 9231-9190