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Police Use of Court Alternatives for Young Persons in NSW

NCJ Number
Clare Ringland; Nadine Smith
Date Published
January 2013
12 pages
This study examined police use of court alternatives for young persons in New South Wales.
This study, conducted by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, examined police use of court alternatives for young persons charged with certain offenses in the New South Wales (NSW). The study found that the rate of diversion for young persons charged with certain offenses ranged between 31 percent and 95 percent per local area command (LAC), and that 85 percent of LACs diverted at least 70 percent of their eligible cases. The study also found that the amount of variation in police use of court alternatives attributable to LAC was less than 5 percent. Data for this study were obtained from NSW's Re-Offending Database (ROD). The ROD is a collection of data obtained from agencies within the NSW criminal justice system that includes information on all NSW court appearances since 1994, and police cautions and completed conferences since 1998. Using this data, the study examined the level of variation across LACs in the proportion of young people police diverted from court by way of a caution or conference. Several factors were investigated to determine their effect on variation levels. The study found that certain person-level variables, such as sex, Indigenous status, or age, could contribute to variations in addition to certain case-level variables, such as offense committed, aspects of the young person's criminal history, and age at time of the proceedings. The findings indicate that being older at time of referral, being male, identifying as Indigenous, having more charges, and having prior cautions, among others, were factors that decreased the likelihood that the young person would be diverted from court. Study limitations are discussed. Tables, figures, and references