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Evaluation of the youth Bail Assistance Line

Release Date: 10:30am Thursday 22 July 2021

Link to report summary:-

 

A program designed to keep young people out of remand significantly reduces the likelihood of custody. However, its limited reach means very few young people receive this assistance.

The NSW Bail Assistance Line is an after-hours helpline that assists young people who are likely to be remanded by police gain access to bail.  Young people can be connected with accommodation, transport and other support services to help them satisfy the conditions of a bail order.

A new evaluation by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research considers the number of young people helped by this program and how placement impacts the likelihood of incarceration and reoffending.

The study found that the number of young people receiving bail through the Bail Assistance Line is low.   In the first half of 2019, the Bail Assistance Line placed 51 young people; or 9.4% of the 542 cases that were bail denied by police or placed by the Bail Assistance Line.  While the number of placements is low, the number of bail placements through the service has in fact more than doubled over the 8 years from 2011.

Young people helped by the Bail Assistance Line are more likely to be female, non-Aboriginal defendants with shorter criminal histories. Services are strongly concentrated in urban areas and Greater Sydney.

While reach is low, the study found positive outcomes for those assisted.  In particular, in the six months after the bail decision, young people placed by the Bail Assistance Line were 16% less likely to be incarcerated.

According to Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director at BOCSAR, “Expanding the Bail Assistance Line has the potential to increase the number of young people placed on bail. However, the impact depends on police engaging the Bail Assistance Line earlier in the bail process and police willingness to consider varying a young person’s bail determination.”

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, BOCSAR  0423 139 687
Email: bcsr@justice.nsw.gov.au
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au