Youth bail considerations

THE Daily Liberal has obtained a copy of the Department of Attorney and General Juvenile Justice Bail Policy.

The document (dated August 17, 2012) sets out the appropriate ways of dealing with young people before courts or in custody on criminal offences.

"Juvenile Justice only provides bail supervision to young people who have entered a guilty plea or been found guilty by the court," the document states.

"This is to protect against net-widening and unnecessary further involvement in the criminal justice system by young people who may not be guilty of their charges.

"This is consistent with the bail protocol between the Children's Court of NSW and Juvenile Justice.

"This approach is also consistent with the substantial body of research that demonstrates the contaminating and potentially damaging effects of unduly involving children and young people in the criminal justice system.

"Such involvement may, for example, disrupt protective factors in their environment such as school attendance or a supportive family, have a negative labelling effect and expose these young people to more predatory or sophisticated offenders.

"The provision of bail supervision only where a guilty plea has been entered also limits the problem of young people making statements about their behaviours to their supervising officer which later may be subject to subpoena or be used in a court case in some way.

"Furthermore, bail supervision where a guilty plea has been entered enables interventions to be provided on confirmed offending behaviour during the adjournment period.

"Young people who have not entered a guilty plea can be referred to a community-based agency for further support as required.''

Juvenile Justice is a division within the Department of Attorney General and Justice of NSW.

It is responsible for the supervision of young people on community-based and custodial orders issued by courts.

The agency is also responsible for the administration of youth justice conferences.

Juvenile Justice reports to the Minister for Justice Greg Smith, who is also the Attorney-General of NSW.

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