Exploring the relationship between community-based order conditions and reoffending

2 Oct 2014

Examines how community-based order conditions were used in the Magistrates’ Court between July 2007 and June 2009 and how offender and offence characteristics differ for offenders who did and did not receive supervision.

Executive summary

This report examines the relationship between conditions imposed on offenders as part of a community-based sentence and subsequent reoffending. Specifically, the report considers community-based orders (CBOs) imposed by the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria between 1 July 2007 and 30 June 2009, with a focus on (a) how magistrates used different combinations of conditions and (b) how offender and offence characteristics, including reoffending rates, differed between offenders who did and did not receive ‘supervision’ as a condition of their order. The analysis provides an insight into the interaction between decisions made by sentencers in relation to community-based sentencing and subsequent reoffending within the Victorian criminal justice system.

Although the CBO was abolished in January 2012, this report is highly relevant to the CBO’s replacement: the community correction order (CCO). Despite an increased range of conditions available under the latter order, recent research suggests that magistrates are using CCOs in a very similar manner to how they were using CBOs. Thus, the report is still likely to provide an insight into the expected reoffending patterns for CCOs.

The Council defines reoffending as any offending that followed the imposition of the index sentence and was sentenced in any Victorian court to 30 June 2012. Defined this way, the overall reoffending rate for offenders who received a CBO is 42.6%.

There are multiple methods for examining reoffending. The methodology used in this report is consistent with the approach taken by the New South Wales (NSW) Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) in their analysis of reoffending in NSW. This method differs from the Productivity Commission’s analysis in a number of significant ways, including:

  • Focusing on reoffending that follows the imposition (as opposed to completion) of community order;
  • Counting reoffending that results in fines; and
  • Including reoffending that occurs between three and five years post-sentenc (as opposed to two years).
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