Youth Justice Conferencing versus the Children's Court: A comparison of cost effectiveness


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Release date: 24 September 2012 Embargo: 10.30am

The average cost processing a young offender through a youth justice conference (YJC) is about 18 per cent less than if the same young offender was dealt with in the Children's Court, a new study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

The Bureau separately estimated the costs involved in policing, legal aid, court administration, administration of conferences and administration of court orders.

In order to estimate average costs per person for each process (YJC versus court) these costs were combined with data from two matched samples of young people: one of whom had been dealt with by a YJC and one of whom could have been dealt with by a YJC but happened instead to have been dealt with in the Children's Court.

The process revealed substantial differences in the average costs of the two types of disposition, particularly with regard to policing and administration of orders.

The average police cost per person dealt with via court was estimated to be $2,278, compared with an average police cost per person dealt with via a YJC of $1,330. The average cost of administering YJC orders was found to be $573, compared with $2,815 for administering orders imposed by the court.

The results were robust under variation of most assumptions (or combinations of assumptions) used in obtaining the estimates.

However, if marginal costs for the Children's Court and costs for administering Children's Court orders are low, then it may be more efficient to deal with an additional young person by court rather than by YJC.

This is because most of the infrastructure required for a court appearance is fixed, whereas each new conference requires the expenditure of additional resources.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190