Study finds community service orders reduce re-offending                 


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Release date: 27 August 2013,Tuesday 9.30am

Requiring offenders to perform community work is more effective in reducing re-offending than putting them on a good behaviour bond, yet only 3.4 per cent of offenders receive a community service order (CSO), whereas more than 20 per cent are placed on a bond.

This is the key finding to emerge from new research released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The Bureau compared 6,501 adult offenders given a section 9 good behaviour bond with a matched sample of 6,501 adult offenders given a CSO.

Both sanctions are alternatives to prison. Offenders given CSOs must perform unpaid work for the community. A section 9 bond is essentially an undertaking to be of good behaviour. Some offenders given section 9 bonds are supervised by the Probation and Parole Service. Others are not.

The Bureau matched offenders given CSOs with offenders given section 9 bonds on a number of factors, including age of offender, gender, Indigenous status, offence type, number of concurrent offences, number of prior court appearances and year on which the case was finalised. They then compared their rates of reconviction.

The results showed that offenders given a CSO are less likely to re-offend than adult offenders given a bond. In the median case, the 24 month reconviction rates were 17.3 per cent (CSOs) and 19.8 per cent (bonds).

Commenting on the findings, the director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that although the difference in reconviction rates appeared small, the true difference in re-offending rates is probably larger than the figures suggest.

Only a fraction of the crimes committed by offenders are detected, so it takes large differences in offending rates to produce small percentage differences in reconviction rates, he said.

Dr Weatherburn said the findings highlighted the need to arrest the decline in use of community service orders.

Since 1994, community service orders have declined from six per cent of all sanctions to less than four per cent. Over the same period, good behaviour bonds have increased and now make up more than 20 per cent of all penalties.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 92319190

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