Australian Institute of Criminology

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Methodology

A number of methodologies were used to explore the research aims outlined in the Introduction.

Quantitative data analysis

Quantitative data on bail and remand for young people were sourced primarily from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) annual Juvenile Justice in Australia and Juvenile Detention Population in Australia reports (AIHW 2012a, 2012b). These reports present data from the Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set. As Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not supplied data on the average length of time young people spend on custodial remand to the AIHW’s Juvenile Justice National Minimum Data Set, data on the average length of remand periods in were requested directly from the relevant Department in these jurisdictions. Data on the average length of time young people spend on custodial remand were received directly from the WA Department of Corrective Services; data were not able to be provided on this measure by the Northern Territory.

Qualitative data collection and analysis

Semi-structured interviews (n=42) were undertaken with a wide range of relevant stakeholders (n=58) in each state and territory. Stakeholders were nominated by the Australasian Juvenile Justice Administrators’ Research Task Group for each jurisdiction. They included (see also Appendix 2 for a list of participants):

  • bail decision makers (ie Magistrates, Judges and senior police);
  • children’s lawyers;
  • prosecution;
  • youth justice policy representatives;
  • bail support workers; and
  • other relevant stakeholders (eg children’s advocates, Indigenous legal services).

Interviews were not undertaken with all stakeholders who were nominated. In some cases, stakeholders declined to be interviewed and in other cases, stakeholders were unavailable or did not respond to requests within the project timeframe.

The primary purposes of the interviews were to obtain information on bail and remand processes in each jurisdiction that was not publicly available and to seek stakeholders’ views about the main influences on the use of custodial remand for young people in their jurisdiction. The semi-structured interviews included questions on the:

  • bail and remand procedures for young people, starting from when a young person comes to the attention of police;
  • role of each stakeholder in the bail and remand process for young people;
  • operational context of bail and remand for young people (ie underlying legislation, policy and formal procedures, key actors in the bail and remand processes for young people);
  • decision-making process in granting or refusing bail for young people and the processes undertaken after a bail decision is made;
  • decision-making process in imposing conditions on bail orders for young people, most common conditions imposed and the impacts of bail conditions on young people;
  • processes in dealing with bail breaches by young people;
  • stakeholder perspectives on the drivers of remanded detention rates, impacts of remanded detention on young people and the changes in the nature or extent of youth offending;
  • key issues faced by Indigenous or female young people and young people from regional/rural areas in the bail and remand process;
  • details of the use and nature of statutory and non-statutory bail support services and programs (including statutory supervised bail); and
  • indirect influences on bail and remand procedures (ie use of diversion mechanisms by police, pressures on young people to plead guilty).

Every effort has been made to ensure interview material quoted in this report is accurate; however, readers should note that stakeholders’ perspectives are subjective opinions rather than objective facts.