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Release date: 1 July 2009, 10.30am
Between 2007 and 2008, the juvenile remand population in New South Wales (NSW) grew by 32 per cent, from an average of 181 per day to 239 per day.
Over the same period, the annual recurrent cost of keeping juveniles on remand rose 29 per cent, from $36.7 million to $47.2 million.
According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, two factors have contributed to the growth in remand.
The first is an increase in the rate at which police are arresting juveniles for breach of bail. The second is an increase in the length of time juveniles are spending on remand.
The number of juveniles arrested for breach of bail has risen steadily, from around 100 a month in 2000 to around 300 a month late last year. The Bureau estimates that every five to seven juveniles arrested for breach of bail results in an average of one extra juvenile being placed on remand per month.
In a sub-study of a sample of juveniles proceeded against for breaching bail, the Bureau found that only 34 per cent had committed further offences. The remainder (66 per cent) had breached some other condition of their bail.
The most common conditions breached were not complying with a curfew order (35 out of 50 cases) and not being in the company of a parent (29 out of 50 cases).
According to the Bureau, new laws introduced by State Parliament in December 2007 to stop defendants 'bail shopping' (going from magistrate to magistrate in the hope of getting bail) have increased the remand problem by increasing the length of time juveniles are spending on remand.
Prior to the introduction of the new law, the average time spent on remand by a juvenile defendant was around 10 to 15 days. The current average period on remand for juveniles is now approaching 35 days.
Although property crime rates have fallen in NSW over the last few years, the Bureau found no evidence that the growth in the size of the juvenile remand population is partly responsible for the fall in property crime.
Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190 or 0419-494-408
1 Numbers add up to more than 50 because some juveniles breached both conditions.