Irish Penal Reform Trust

IPRT welcomes findings of Bail Supervision Scheme evaluation

20th December 2019

IPRT welcomes the publication of the Evaluation of the Bail Supervision Scheme for Children (pilot Scheme) by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs today, 20th December 2019. The report demonstrates positive outcomes for children who participated and completed the Bail Supervision Scheme (BSS). This included a significant reduction in children’s re-offending at 72%, which compared favourably to the re-offending rate of a control group who had a 37% reduction in re-offending over an equivalent time period. The findings of the BSS evaluation (May 2017-June 2018) showed young people on exit of the programme showed full compliance with bail conditions. Furthermore, 85% of children who had completed the Bail Supervision Scheme received a non-custodial sanction at the sentencing hearing.  

IPRT further welcomes the commitment by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Ms Katherine Zappone TD to progress plans to roll out the Bail Supervision Scheme to make it available to a larger number of children coming through the courts.

Speaking today Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Fíona Ní Chinnéide stated:

“We welcome the publication of the evaluation of the pilot Bail Supervision Scheme. Undertaking evaluations of this kind is vitally important to inform evidence-led policy and practice. It is clear from the findings of this report that the pilot Bail Supervision Scheme is an important programme in ensuring that detention for children is used as a last resort as outlined under domestic law. The Bail Supervision Scheme demonstrates the importance of supports to both children and their caregivers in order to reduce offending behaviour, facilitate compliance with bail conditions and support better outcomes for children overall.

Furthermore IPRT believes that a similar approach should be applied to the adult offending population, in particular young adults aged 18-24, in order to reduce the number of people remanded in custody. Some of the success factors attributed to this programme, including greater inter-agency collaboration, should be replicated in the adult system.”                                              

The report attributes a number of key aspects to the success of the programme, including: the role of the Oversight Group in terms of gaining ‘buy-in’ from the relevant stakeholders and engaging in problem-solving processes; the importance of positive advocates within the court setting; and inter-agency collaboration and good professional relationships between bodies (e.g. the Courts, An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service, Oberstown Children Detention Campus, Tusla and Extern who run the Bail Supervision Scheme). The importance of sustained engagement with families was highlighted in the report.

Some of the challenges outlined in the evaluation included: the BSS team had to report all breaches of bail conditions by a young person to An Garda Síochána, which could result in a lack of trust and engagement with families. Caregivers also expressed concerns of the short timeframe of the programme. The exclusion criteria of the programme was also cited.

Currently, there are exclusions to partaking in the programme. For example, children in care (ie. residential care) are excluded from the programme. Statistics from Oberstown Children Detention Campus indicate that children in care are over-represented in detention: in quarter 1 of 2019, 41% of children in detention were in care or had significant involvement with Tusla.                 

Overall, the Bail Supervision Scheme was found to have contributed to:

  1. Change in the young person’s behaviour who participated and completed the programme  
  2. Gaining the confidence of stakeholders working in the judicial system   

Read more:

Oberstown Children Detention Campus, Quarterly characteristics of young people in detention (see Quarter 1 2019 factsheet): https://www.oberstown.com/campus-stats/  

Naughton C., Redmond S & B. Coonan (2019) Evaluation of the Bail Supervision Scheme for Children (Pilot Scheme): https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/0a6bc8-evaluation-of-the-bail-supervision-scheme-for-children-pilot-scheme/

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