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Bail Act's effect on kids reviewed

Bail Act's effect on kids reviewed

The Law Society of NSW has welcomed plans by the NSW Government to undertake a comprehensive and consultative review of the Bail Act 1978, particularly in relation to its impact on children.The…

The Law Society of NSW has welcomed plans by the NSW Government to undertake a comprehensive and consultative review of the Bail Act 1978, particularly in relation to its impact on children.

The president of the Law Society, Stuart Westgarth, said numerous changes to the Act, most recently to s22A, have had a detrimental effect on children and young people.

"We cannot simply ignore the fact that more children and young people are spending time on remand following the introduction of section 22A," Westgarth said.

"This is concerning given the small percentage of children that go on to receive a custodial sentence. Juvenile Justice statistics indicate that up to 80 per cent of children and young people on remand do not receive a custodial sentence."

According to Westgarth, statistics also show an increase in the total number of children and young people held on remand last year, with the total amount up 11 per cent to 4439.

"It is critical that review of the Bail Act 1978 is wide-ranging and comprehensive and looks closely at the impact on children and young people," he said.

"Laws on bail must set consideration of the risks of granting bail against the fundamental principle that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence and the right to liberty must underpin any review of the Act."

Westgarth said the Law Society will be making a submission to the review.

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