Use this procedure to prepare, write and submit a pre-sentence report in the children's court.

 

When to use this procedure

When a young person has been placed on a deferral of sentence and the court has requested the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

 

What else you need to know

Make sure you have read and understood the following procedures:

 

Practice context and legislation

  • The requirements of pre-sentence reports are legislated for in ss. 571–575 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.
  • The purpose of a pre-sentence report is to assist the court in sentencing the young person. To do this, the report must:
    • provide information to the court about the relevant circumstances of the offence/s
    • provide background information about the individual's personal circumstances
    • state any previous sentencing orders involving youth justice
    • if appropriate, make a recommendation.
  • A quality pre-sentence report also takes into consideration:
    • the nature and availability of existing supports
    • an analysis of the young person's risks and needs
    • the relevant supports and services available to the young person, whether the recommendation is for a supervisory order or not.
  • All recommendations must take into account the objectives of diversion and rehabilitation while balancing the responsibility of addressing the young person's criminal behaviour and the safety of the community.
 

Roles and key tasks

Youth justice court advice worker

  • Obtain charge sheets, amended police summaries and legal representative details.
  • Confirm young person’s name and contact details.
  • Provide first appointment time and youth justice contact details to young person.

Case manager

  • Undertake weekly supervision of the young person
  • Conduct interviews to obtain information to assist with preparation of pre-sentence report.
  • Undertake case management of the young person, implementing referrals where appropriate.
  • Prepare pre-sentence report, submit and present to the court.

Team leader / team manager

  • Provide consultation and supervision to case manager.
  • Endorse and approve pre-sentence report.

Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support

  • Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice program.
  • Provide case consultation particularly in relation to young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours.

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

Provide consultation on case management and report recommendations issues, particularly in relation to high-risk clients.

This should occur subject to local area agreements between Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support and the Youth Justice Senior Practice Adviser.

 

The procedure in detail

Pre-sentence report requested by the court

A young person appears before the court and pleads guilty to the charge/s.

To assist the court in sentencing, the magistrate or judge orders a pre-sentence report to be prepared by youth justice.

The youth justice court advice service worker or allocated youth justice worker is responsible for obtaining the following:

  • order requesting the report
  • charge sheet/s from court and confirming the charges for which the pre-sentence report has been requested
  • a copy of any prior convictions from police
  • the police summary (confirming any amendments)
  • the name of magistrate and return date
  • the name and contact details of young person's legal representative.

Youth justice will provide:

  • required contact details to the young person, including the name and phone number of the team leader and the location of the office
  • the young person with first appointment date and time.

Prior to interviewing young person

The allocated worker should:

  • review all material in the Client Relationship Information System (CRIS) client file
  • seek access to all court ordered reports and assessments by contacting the young person's legal representative
  • where appropriate, contact the youth justice precinct
  • when preparing to interview the young person for the first time, ensure that processes are followed as per the procedure for 'Harm prevention and risk management'.  

First interview appointment

Before obtaining information for the pre-sentence report, ensure the young person has received a copy ofYour personal information – information for young people receiving youth justice services. This can be found as an appendix in the Protocol between child protection and youth justice 2013. Providing this notice will allow for the collection, use, disclosure and storage of the young person’s personal and health information.

Further:

  • advise the young person that any information they provide may be included in the report
  • explain the limitations of confidentiality
  • identify the people to whom the report may be released
  • advise the young person that information will be maintained on a departmental file and follow all CRIS privacy requirements
  • inform the young person that they are not obliged to participate in the preparation of the report, but non-participation will be reported to the court.

Interviewing the young person and other relevant parties

Information for the pre-sentence report may be gathered over a period of time, determined by the date by which the report must be filed with the court.

Information that is specifically required for the report may be requested from sources other than the young person themselves.

Interviews and appointments with the young person may be conducted either in the office or in an outreach capacity, in line with the Staff safety in the workplace guide.

Information gathered for a pre-sentence report is detailed and often sensitive in nature. Young people and their families may be resistant to providing information, especially if it is their first formal contact with youth justice. The procedure on 'Engaging young people' may provide some assistance in this area.

Preparing the report

When writing the pre-sentence report:

  • Identify all sources of information.
  • Define information as either factual, evidence based or professional opinion.
  • Ensure statements in the report are relevant to one of the legislatively allowable categories of information and relevant to the offence/s before the court and the recommended sentencing order, if any.
  • If relevant, liaise with other programs or services such as the Children's Court Clinic, disability services and child protection about the progress of their reports and recommendations.
  • Obtain endorsement and signature from the team leader.
  • Review contents of the report with the young person.
  • Explain the recommendation to the young person and, if an order is likely, what the requirements of the order might be.

Distribution of the pre-sentence report

At least three working days prior to the court return date:

  • File the report with the court registrar.
  • Provide a copy of the report to the young person.
  • Send a copy of the report to the young person's legal representative.
  • Send a copy of the report to any other party the court has directed is to receive a copy of the report. 

Release of youth justice reports to police

Copies of youth justice reports are not to be forwarded to police unless the young person has consented and signed a consent form for the release of that report.

If a young person has provided consent for the release of a report, the decision to release information contained in the document is at the discretion of line management.

If youth justice decides not to release a report, the police can seek a copy by warrant or subpoena.

The above requirement also extends to police prosecutors.

Restricted access to the pre-sentence report

If youth justice believes information in the report may be prejudicial to the physical or mental health of the young person, or the young person objects to the distribution of the report to others, the report may be restricted under s. 575 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

If the decision is made to restrict access to the report, youth justice must:

  • advise the young person of the restriction and the reasons behind the decision
  • attach a coversheet to the report advising the court of the restriction (this can be found in CRIS in the documents dropdown under the 'Court appearance' tab)
  • notify the registrar or the children's court coordinator of the restriction.

Attending court or alternative representation

Refer to procedures relating to 'Attending court and court etiquette' for obtaining alternative youth justice representation at court.