Does CREDIT reduce the risk of re-offending?


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Release date: 3 July 2013, Wednesday 10.30am

New research released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found no evidence that the Court Referral of Eligible Defendants into Treatment (CREDIT) program reduces re-offending.

The CREDIT program is a two-year pilot program that began operation on 24 August 2009 in one metropolitan local court (Burwood) and one non-metropolitan local court (Tamworth). CREDIT has two objectives:

  1. to reduce re-offending by encouraging and assisting defendants appearing at Local Courts to engage in education, treatment or rehabilitation programs and by assisting them to receive social welfare support; and
  2. to contribute to the quality of decision-making in the local court by helping ensure that information on defendants' needs and rehabilitation efforts are put before the court.

An earlier report by the Bureau report found high levels of satisfaction with the program among both participants and key stakeholders (e.g. program staff, registrars, solicitors, police prosecutors, magistrates).

To examine the effect of the CREDIT program on re-offending, 255 CREDIT participants in Tamworth were carefully matched to 255 comparison group defendants (who were not referred to CREDIT).

The two groups were then followed up to see whether there were any differences in the proportion reconvicted of a further offence within twelve months, the number of court-reappearances within 12 months or the time to the first proven re-offence.

A similar process was undertaken in Burwood, where 152 CREDIT participants were matched with 152 comparison group defendants.

No significant differences in either location emerged between defendants referred to CREDIT and their matched controls in either the proportion re-offending within 12 months, the number of court re-appearances within 12 months or the time to the first proven re-offence.

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that the Bureau's findings should be treated with care.

"It is important to keep in mind the very small number of defendants referred to the program over the study period, the short follow-up period involved and our inability to match treatment and control defendants on key variables related to offending (especially drug and alcohol use, mental health issues)."

"Given the high level of participant and stakeholder satisfaction with the program it may be worth expanding the program and re-evaluate it at a later point in time with a larger sample of participants."

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190