An after-hours telephone line designed to help young people get bail in NSW reduces the risk of incarceration - but few actually receive its help, new research has found.
The NSW Bail Assistance Line links young people up with accommodation, transport and other support services to remove obstacles to them getting bail from police.
Six months after receiving help from the line, young people who used it successfully are 16 per cent less likely to be incarcerated than others, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found.
However, only 51 young people were placed by the service in the first half of 2019.
The helpline is hampered by a lack of services and police failing to refer people to it, the research suggests.
"Expanding the Bail Assistance Line has the potential to increase the number of young people placed on bail," said BOCSAR executive director Jackie Fitzgerald.
"However, the impact depends on police engaging the Bail Assistance Line earlier in the bail process and police willingness to consider varying a young person's bail determination."
There is no evidence the helpline reduces the likelihood or frequency of future offending.
Its services are strongly concentrated in urban areas in the Greater Sydney region, the research found.
The helpline was started in 2010.
It works by helping young people meet conditions of their bail, which would otherwise see them kept on remand.
Young defendants are refused bail at a much greater rate than adults in NSW.
Australian Associated Press