This paper assesses whether the philosophy of the Young Offenders Act (YOA) is being adhered to in respect to the nature of offences being diverted and the use of the hierarchical approach to sanctioning.
The aim is be addressed by describing the use of police cautions, youth justice conferences (YJCs) and proven Children’s Court appearances among a cohort of young people in NSW in 2010. The data were drawn from the NSW Re-offending Database (ROD).
Overall, the results were in the expected direction when the hierarchy of sanctions under the YOA are considered (i.e. from police caution to YJC to proven court appearance). Very few young people in this cohort received more than three police cautions and/or YJCs. Additionally, no young person was given a YJC for homicide related offences that are excluded under the Young Offenders Act 1997 (YOA). Juvenile offenders, however, were much more likely to receive a caution or be referred to court than to be referred to a Youth Justice Conference.
The philosophy of the Act has largely been adhered to, at least insofar as the gradation of sanctions and the types of offences being diverted are concerned.