This paper compares police-referred youth justice conferences (YJCs), court referred YJCs and Children’s Court matters on the time to finalisation, and assess the contribution of index offence- and/or offender-related characteristics as potential confounders.
The study utilised data from the NSW Re-Offending Database (ROD) for three cohorts of young people: those with a court-referred YJC held in 2010 (C-YJC), those with a police-referred YJC held in 2010 (P-YJC), and those with a proven Children’s Court (CC) appearance finalised in 2010. Negative binomial regression models were fitted to determine index offence- and offender-related characteristics associated with time to finalisation.
The C-YJC cohort had a significantly longer time to finalisation compared to the CC cohort and the P-YJC cohort, even after controlling for confounders. In addition, the CC cohort had a significantly longer time to finalisation compared to the P-YJC cohort. Older age, being Indigenous, having a case dealt with in a Metropolitan region, and having more concurrent index offences remained significant predictors of an increase in number of days to finalisation in the adjusted model.
The findings suggest that police should be encouraged to refer eligible matters to a YJC given the time-related efficiency identified via this pathway. The findings suggest it may be appropriate to consider further revising the legislated time-frames as there may be legitimate reasons for why delays occur.