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​Trends in conditional discharges

Full report - Trends in conditional discharges (pdf, 598Kb)

Release date: 10.30AM Tuesday 13 September, 2016

Courts are increasingly choosing to give offenders a section 10(1)b bond rather than fine them according to new research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

A 10(1)b bond is one of the least severe penalties a court can impose on an offender.  Offenders given a section 10(1)b bond are released without conviction on condition that they enter into a good behaviour bond. Breach of a bond may result in resentencing for the original offence.

BOCSAR examined the penalties imposed by the NSW Local Courts between January 2004 and September 2015 for assault, drug, weapons, property damage and traffic offences. These offences account for around 80 per cent of all section 10(1)b bonds.

Between January 2004 and September 2015, the percentage of offenders in these categories receiving a section 10(1)b bond rose from 15.2 per cent to 23.6 per cent.

Over the same period the proportion of fines being imposed by the Local Court for the same offences fell from 66 per cent to 55.9 per cent; almost perfectly matching the increase in the use of section 10(1)b bonds.

The growth in the use of section 10(1)b bonds remained significant even after controlling for changes in offender characteristics such as Indigenous status, gender, level of disadvantage, age, remoteness of residence, number of concurrent offences and prior criminal record.

Commenting on the findings, the director of BOCSAR said that it was important to understand that section 10(1)b bonds were not replacing prison as a sanction. Their use is growing at the expense of fines. Fines and section 10 bonds are both reserved for less serious forms of criminality.

"The reason for the increased use of section 10(1)b bonds is unclear but it may be a response to recent concerns regarding the hardships caused by fines and the fine enforcement system.”

“The suspension or cancellation of driver licences for failing to pay a fine can in some cases lead to much harsher penalties for secondary offending, such as imprisonment for unlicensed driving.”

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 02 8346 1100

Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au