Safer Territory: New Legislation to Strengthen Bail Laws

NT Government

The Territory Labor government is focussed on keeping Territorians safe and holding repeat offenders to greater account with the introduction of the Youth Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 – which will strengthen bail laws in the Northern Territory.

This new Bill will include stronger bail laws, an expansion of prescribed offences and more powers given to Police to tackle youth crime through electric monitoring.

One feature of the legislation brought into Parliament today are the new Family Responsibility Agreements, which will be court ordered, and will make sure families are accountable and provide a home environment that does not contribute to youth offending.

The suite of legislative and non-legislative measures to reduce youth crime through targeting repeat offenders in the Northern Territory include:

1) Family Responsibility Agreements:

  • The new Family Responsibility Agreements will be court ordered.
  • Judges will be able to make agreements to order families of troubled youths to participate in family group conferencing and counselling, education or training, housing management and financial counselling or on-country programs.
  • These agreements will need to be adhered to as they are court ordered.

2) Automatic revocation of bail:

  • If a young person commits a serious breach of bail – their bail will be revoked and they will be taken into remand. A serious breach of bail will include re-offending while on bail, breaching certain electronic monitoring conditions and curfew, failure to attend court, and failing to complete youth diversion.

3) Expanding the list of prescribed offences when on bail:

  • The Bail Act will be amended to expand the list of ‘prescribed offences’. This means there is NO presumption of bail given to offences such as unlawful entry, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, assault of a worker, assault of police and other serious offences.

4) Expansion of Electronic Monitoring (EM) by police:

  • Police will have the ability to place an electronic monitoring device to a youth as an interim measure as they’re being assessed for an Electronic Monitoring Device as a condition of court bail.

5) Ability to Record Breach of Bail Antecedents:

  • Judges will have information on breaches of bail to make the best sentencing decisions.

6) Review of the Traffic Act 1987 to hold young people accountable:

  • This will enable young people behind the wheel of a car to be breath tested the same as adults when driving. Amendments will be made to the Youth Justice Agreement to remove the requirement of a responsible adult being present for a breath-test to occur.

7) Amend Section 64 of the Youth Justice Act:

  • Section 64 of the Youth Justice Act will mean a youth must face consequence – if a young offender fails to complete their diversion, they will have to go back before the courts and have their case reconsidered. The amendment will also remove the issue of having courts referring young people back to Police for consideration for diversion. It will mean courts can only refer youth under this section where the youth have not previously been considered for diversion.

The Territory Labor Government is also investing in services to help stop crime before it starts – including youth programs, family programs, better schools, better health care and better housing.

All these measures help tackle the underlying causes of crime that ripple through generations. These results don’t happen overnight, but sustaining and growing this work is vital.

To view the new proposed legislation visit https://legislation.nt.gov.au/en/LegislationPortal/Bills/~/link.aspx?_id=3431B4DCD4CF4FBBA2FB96B533A056CF&_z=z

Quotes from the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Nicole Manison

“The introduction of the Youth Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 means more common sense consequences for repeat offenders and more visibility of youth on bail. It will make the work of police easier and keep the Territory safer.

“The bill will build on other Territory Government initiatives we have introduced to tackle crime and keep our communities safe.

“These amendments are the direct result of feedback from frontline Police and relevant organisations, agencies and groups. They will complement the suite of work we have done to break the cycle of generational offending.

“The CLP delivered us nothing but a royal commission, an underfunded and under-resourced police force, and stripped funding to youth diversion programs and services.”

Quotes from the Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing, Kate Worden:

“Over the past four years the Territory Government has worked to ensure that the Territory’s youth justice system is reformed.

“The changes we’re introducing will build on this Government’s vision of a youth justice systems that contributes to community safety and reduces reoffending by young people.

“Our investment in community youth justice programs has meant that hundreds more young people have active case management and receive interventions that change their behaviour.

“We have established a Bail Support System that did not exist before, and we have also established a Youth Outreach System that did not exist before. We have made significant changes – it has been modernised and improved from the broken and failing system we inherited.”

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