Assessing the suitability of an address for electronically-monitored bail, home detention and community detention

ADLS’s Criminal Law Committee wishes to let practitioners know about some recent updates in relation to electronically-monitored bail. This update has been prepared by the Committee’s Convenor, Marie Dyhrberg QC.

The Court is experiencing undue delays and undesirable adjournments when electronically-monitored addresses are deemed unsuitable for various reasons and applications have to be put off while the suitability of alternative addresses is explored.

Changes to Corrections policy in terms of providing more than one address for electronically-monitored bail and sentencing applications means that counsel are asked to take full instructions in relation to the property settings and conditions of two potential addresses with an indication of the order of preference for the addresses.

Counsel can assist clients, the Court and Corrections by taking full instructions on the suitability or otherwise of any addresses provided by clients when providing addresses for Corrections. The following guidelines will assist in eliminating from the outset any addresses that will inevitably be deemed unsuitable. The result will be that clients are not remanded further in custody while sorting out suitable addresses for electronically-monitored bail and sentencing.

Corrections advise there are a number of factors which can affect the suitability of the address. While the previous restriction of 50 kilometres or one hour from a Community Probation site no longer exists, there are a number of other factors which will impact on its decision to recommend an electronically-monitored sentence or bail. To assess whether the residence is suitable, the following list provides the kind of considerations taken into account in any assessment:

  • What is the address? (Give a description of the residence and property, such as house, apartment, caravan, sleepout, fenced outdoor area.)
  • Does the defendant have their own bedroom? (If community detention, this may be dependent on the time of the curfews.)
  • Does the property have running water, electricity and adequate heating?
  • Are there any significant health or safety problems identified? With home detention, is the residence of the type where a person could reasonably live for a period of time without leaving? (If it is not, such as a caravan, the residence may be deemed unsuitable.)
  • Is the proposed accommodation rented or leased? If so, ascertain the length of the rental period/lease. Request that the occupants confirm that there is nothing in their lease/rental agreement that may preclude the offender from being at the address while subject to home detention.
  • What is the location of the residence in relation to support services, major shopping centres, and public transport? (This is especially relevant if considering home detention for a defendant who intends to reside by themselves as they may require absences to complete grocery shopping.)
  • Is there any other information relevant to the residence that may present a risk in terms of the successful completion of home detention (such as schools, hotels, proximity to victim)? Are there any access issues?
  • Are there any issues regarding the occupants of the address that would compromise home detention?

Mandatory considerations

Mandatory considerations include that the address must be accessible at all times. A property that requires a 4WD vehicle to access it is not suitable for electronic monitoring. The address must have cell phone coverage to allow the field officer to call out. This can be ascertained by completing an onsite feasibility check. Any dogs on the property must be secured at all times.

Addresses with multiple occupants

Addresses with multiple occupants with shared facilities, for example boarding houses and backpackers, are considered unsuitable due to the lack of supervision with close proximity to and transience of the other occupants. Some residences with multiple occupants may be assessed as suitable due to the supervision and oversight provided by the residence and the more stable resident population. A residential treatment facility or rest home may be assessed as suitable in these circumstances. 

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