Christopher Knaus August 06, 2012
The territory's new after-hours bail service has helped to keep 21 underage offenders out of youth detention in its first six months, as part of government efforts to stop young Canberrans turning into recidivist criminals.
The service, set up last November, is designed to prevent young offenders from being remanded into the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre, by giving them better opportunity to make the arrangements necessary for bail. The service runs late at night and into the early hours of the morning, and has dealt with 270 matters involving 84 individuals since its inception.
The government will release today an internal review of the service, which shows a 17 per cent reduction in short-term remand at Bimberi compared to the previous year.
Community Services Minister Joy Burch said that meant young offenders were less likely to become trapped in a cycle of recidivism.
''All the evidence confirms that reducing the time held in detention and reducing the interface between young people and youth justice has a better outcome for those kids over the longer term,'' Ms Burch said.
''Before this, if a young person had a condition of bail, and it could have been that you had to be home by 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock and you weren't there, then you breached your conditions,'' she said.
''There was no choice but to be held in custody, now that just doesn't make any social policy sense whatsoever.
''What I've heard is that police are very grateful to have this service there.''
The government considered introducing the after-hours bail service before last year's review of the youth justice system by the Human Rights Commission. But the need for such a service was again highlighted by the commission's review.
The government has implemented over half of the more than 200 recommendations made in the review, and Ms Burch said most of the outstanding recommendations were ''not too far away''.
She said the government was just weeks away from releasing their blueprint for the youth justice system, which will set its strategic plan for the next 5-10 years. The Youth Justice Implementation Taskforce, comprising the government and community sectors, has been developing the plan since last year.
Ms Burch said it will focus on diverting those at-risk of offending away from the youth justice system.
''First and foremost it's around diversion away … how do we restore them, how do we give them opportunities through training, through employment?
''So they're given opportunities that we'd want for all of our sons and daughters across Canberra.''
The blueprint is expected to be tabled in the assembly during the August sitting period.
The government will also release a full report into the operation of the after-hours bail service in early September.