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Release date: 5 March 2012 Embargo: 10.30am
A pilot program designed to assist defendants appearing at some Local Courts to engage in treatment or rehabilitation programs has been given the thumbs-up by participants and practitioners, according to a new report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
Over the two-year pilot period (24 August 2009 - 23 August 2011), the program received 719 referrals and conducted 637 assessments. A total of 451 defendants participated in the program.
The vast majority (99%) of participants interviewed were either 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with both the support they received from CREDIT staff and with the progress they had made on the program.
Most (95.9%) reported that their life had changed for the better by being on the program. The changes mentioned included improved physical or mental health, a more positive outlook, improved relationships, increased confidence; recognizing the consequences of their actions, becoming more responsible; managing problems or situations more constructively; and having new options opened as a result of being on the program.
Stakeholders' opinions of the pilot program were equally positive. The majority believed that the defendant's performance on the program had a positive impact on the magistrate's sentencing decision for that defendant. All service providers, police prosecutors, solicitors and probation and parole officers who were interviewed reported positive working relationships with CREDIT staff.
The most common recommendations made by stakeholders included an extension of the pilot program; and enhancement of services, programs and transport options in the catchment areas.
The Bureau is now examining the effect of CREDIT on the risk of re-offending. A report on this aspect of the program will be completed later this year.
Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190