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Mediation cheaper than court for juveniles

Mon September 24, 2012 11:36am

FORCING young offenders to admit and discuss their crimes is a better use of taxpayers' money than making them face court, a new study shows.

The study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research into youth justice conferencing versus the children's court has found the average cost of conferences are 18 per cent lower than formal court procedures.

Youth justice conferencing is an alternative to children's court and involves mediation between offenders, their families or guardians, the victim and their family, a youth justice coordinator and a representative from the police.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found the average police cost of a conference was $1330, compared to $2278 if the matter was dealt with in court.

Courts can also decide a matter be resolved through a conference once a case is before them.

However, Don Weatherburn, director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, said letting courts decide whether a matter should be resolved in a youth justice conference was a costly expense.

"It's less expensive for the taxpayer if it goes straight to youth conferences rather than have the courts decide," he told AAP.

"It adds to the expense without adding to any real outcomes."

Dr Weatherburn said while police have the power to refer cases directly to conferences, offenders must admit to their crimes before mediation can take place.

"Police should refer more cases to conferences, but before they can do that, offenders must plead guilty, which can be difficult," he said.

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