Research from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has cast doubt on the effectiveness of PCYC youth intervention programs.
The statistics indicated two-thirds of juveniles referred to PCYC programs across NSW were committing crimes again within 12 months. For more than half their time before reoffending was less than six months.
Orange City Council’s Community Safety Committee member Ron Gander said the figures raised questions about the support systems in place for people who were referred to the program.
“What about their family and friends?” Councillor Gander asked.
“If you haven’t got a rehabilitation system in place with the punishment system, people are going to go in as amateurs and come out as professionals.”
Cr Gander said those emerging from the justice system can’t be left to fend for themselves, citing the Bowen Community Technology Centre as a successful example for the rehabilitation of criminalised youth.
“We found that when kids initially came to the Bowen Community Technology Centre they had their backs up,” Cr Gander noted.
“But when they were treated fairly and felt accepted as a person, their behaviour changed.”
Charles Sturt University senior lecturer in law and justice Katherine McFarlane said simply locking someone in a cell only helped to create criminals.
“What we do know is young offenders have to be treated with compassion,” Dr McFarlane said.
She said it was important intervention programs such as PCYC’s did not operate in isolation, but were part of a broader effort.
NSW Police’s youth command Superintendent David Scrimgeour said the unit’s work was vital and was leading to a reduction in instances of reoffending.
“This data shows that the young offenders the youth command work with have a significant reduction in their rate of reoffending,” Superintendent Scrimgeour said.
“The focus of the youth command is to target those youth who have the greatest need for intervention and not those least at risk. The BOCSAR study needs to be understood in that context.
“This is a small part of the ongoing NSW Police research in conjunction with BOCSAR and Sydney University to identifying best practice in reducing youth reoffending.”