A pilot bail support service begins in Christchurch and Manukau District Courts on Monday, 26 November 2018 after successfully operating in Wellington since June.
Bail Support Services is run by the HIgh Impact Innovation Programme on behalf of the justice sector government agencies (the Department of Corrections, Ministry of Justice and New Zealand Police).
The pilot is aimed at reducing the time to achieve bail from the current average of 24 days and to reduce the number of defendants who return to prison as a result of non compliance with court imposed bail conditions .
The High Impact Innovation Programme says the pilot is designed as a transparent and non-biased service to the courts, enabling informed and safe decision making.
How it works
Bail support officers conduct needs assessments for defendants in court, then provide a written plan on how any identified needs would be met if the defendant achieved bail. The officers consider a range of needs that may include, but aren’t limited to, accommodation, income, education or health.
If bail is achieved, bail support officers can work with the defendant in the community to support them to comply with their conditions and remain offence free.
The High Impact Innovation Programme says bail support officers do not make judgements or recommendations, nor do they advocate for defendants.
"Instead they collect information about a defendant’s circumstances in consultation with their defence counsel and the Police. This information can then be used by defence counsel to aid an application for bail.
"Bail Support Services enables relevant information to be presented to the court at the earliest opportunity. This can ultimately reduce the need for adjournments and speed up the justice process. As well as being beneficial to defendants, this reduces pressure on the justice system by facilitating more meaningful court appearances with less adjournments."
The bail support officers
There will be six bail support officers in Christchurch and 12 in Manukau. Morning tea launches are being arranged in both locations next week. Explanatory posters will be placed around the courts and staff welcome contact from lawyers, along with questions.
The bail support officers may be seen in the courtrooms or they may make contact with counsel regarding specific defendants. There are also email addresses for each location: