Supported Bail Pilot Programme

Published: August 31, 2021

This report presents the findings from an evaluation of an enhanced Supported Bail pilot programme.


Supported bail is a community-based programme that supports rangatahi remanded on bail, who are liable to breach bail conditions or be detained in custody without this intensive support.

Supported bail started in New Zealand in 2007. With the raising of the youth jurisdictional age and the corresponding change to the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, an enhanced programme was piloted in 2019 by five established community service providers.

This evaluation sought to understand how the programme was implemented and its outcomes. The evaluation was based primarily on the perspectives of rangatahi in the pilot programme, their whānau, pilot providers, and key Oranga Tamariki stakeholders.

Key findings

The evaluation, completed in 2021, found that the Supported Bail pilot enabled a good proportion of rangatahi to remain out of custodial remand during their bail period. Of the 168 rangatahi on the pilot in 2019 and 2020, 106 (or 63%) completed the programme. The completion rate for rangatahi Māori was on a par with that for rangatahi of all ethnicities.

The programme served to improve wellbeing of rangatahi and their whānau, based on self-reports from those participating in the evaluation. Rangatahi spoke of positive changes they had made or were making towards improving their lives. Most rangatahi said they would recommend the programme to other young people in similar circumstances.

The pilot was found to be well implemented, largely due to the skilled and experienced kaimahi (youth workers) and whānau support workers employed by the pilot service delivery partners. Kaimahi were instrumental in bringing about change in rangatahi, who attributed some of their achievements to the level of support from kaimahi. Kaimahi also supported rangatahi and their whānau at their Family Group Conferences (FGCs) and Youth Court appearances.

The presence of whānau support workers alongside kaimahi helped parents/caregivers to support their rangatahi even after they completed the programme. They were often able to exert a positive influence on the wider whānau.

Key recommendations:

  • Stronger messaging about the availability of a supported bail provider on evenings and weekends, if needed
  • Using longer-term contracts to provide greater stability and continuity for supported bail providers
  • Work to enhance the recognition and the place of kaimahi at FGCs and court appearances
  • Taking care when transitioning rangatahi onto other programmes given they may have become dependent on their kaimahi
  • Any expansion in the number of supported bail providers should include more iwi providers, given the over-representation of Māori in the youth justice system
  • Broadening the eligibility criteria for supported bail to include rangatahi at lower risk of reoffending, but who would still benefit from support.