Criminals who live in the community under intensive supervision are 33 per cent less likely to reoffend than those sentenced to weekend detention, a new report has found.
The findings appear to back the government's recent decision to end weekend detention in the ACT by 2016-17 and shift to community-based supervision orders.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) on Friday released a report looking at the effectiveness of intensive correction orders in preventing criminals from committing further crimes.
It found that NSW offenders on community orders were 33 per cent less likely to reoffend than those who were sentenced to weekend detention.
The state shifted from periodic detention to intensive correction orders in 2010, an act the ACT now appears likely to follow.
But BOCSAR warned that limitations to their research, which prevented them from matching key factors like drug use, may cast doubt on the findings.
The report has been welcomed by ACT Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury, who said the findings were "very promising".
The ACT is following other state and territory governments in ending periodic detention as a way to punish offenders.
The Symonston periodic detention centre is set to close by 2016-17, effectively ending the use of weekend detention in all Australian jurisdictions.
Mr Rattenbury said the BOCSAR report backed the ACT Government's moves to a "more focussed way" of addressing the behaviour underlying criminal offending.
The announcement to end weekend detention, made in late March, attracted criticism from parts of the legal fraternity, who attacked the government for failing to consult and accused it of being motivated by cost-cutting.
The ACT Bar Association said it feared the lack of periodic detention may force courts to sentence offenders to full-time imprisonment because of a lack of other suitable options.
At the time, the government responded that there was a window for consultation of between two to three years until the end of weekend detention.
Mr Rattenbury said that consultation was now getting under way, and the government was looking to other jurisdictions to "cherry pick" from successful initiatives.
BOCSAR was careful to temper Friday's findings, pointing to the limitations of the research. Such limitations were not present in a different comparison, which looked at intensive orders as opposed to suspended sentences.
That study found no difference in effectiveness between those two sentencing options, prompting BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn to cast some doubt on whether intensive correction orders actually produced better results than weekend detention.
"The problem in essence is that we were able to match offenders given [intensive correction orders] and offenders given supervised suspended sentences on a number of important factors (e.g. drug use) that could not be used when matching offenders given [intensive correction orders] with offenders given periodic detention," Dr Weatherburn said.
"Had we been able to measure and control for these factors when comparing offenders on [intensive correction orders] and offenders on periodic detention, the difference in reoffending between these two groups may have disappeared."
Such limitations were not present in a different comparison, looking at intensive orders verse suspended sentences.
No difference in effectiveness was found between those two sentencing options, prompting bureau director Don Weatherburn to cast some doubt on whether intensive correction orders actually produced better results than weekend detention.
"Had we been able to measure and control for these factors when comparing offenders on [intensive correction orders] and offenders on periodic detention, the difference in re-offending between these two groups may have disappeared," Dr Weatherburn said.