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- The Bail Act 1976 and subsequent amendments in the Bail (amendment) Act 1993
- the Crime and Disorder Act 1998
- the Criminal Justice Act 2003
- the Coroners and Justice Act 2009
Who can grant bail?
The police, magistrates and the Crown Court can all grant bail
Presumption in favour of bail
There is a presumption that bail should be granted unless there is a good reason to refuse it.
Reasons for refusing bail
- Failure to surrender to custody
- likely to commit further offences
- interference with witnesses or the course of justice
Factors to be taken into account when granting bail
- These include:
- the nature and seriousness of the offence
- the antecedents of the defendents
- any previous bail record
- the strength of evidence against the defendant
Unconditional and conditional bail
Most commonly unconditional bail is granted. However, this does have one condition - that the suspect will attend court at the specified.
- This is given if there are some risks in giving unconditional bail. The type of condition imposed will depend on the risk factors and can include:
- Residence - at a bail hostel or their home address
- curfew with tagging
- handing in passport
- reporting at a police station at specified times
- exclusion zones
- contact bans
Restrictions on granting bail
- Although there is a presumption in favour of bail, it is rebutted in certain circumstances
- For an offence committed while already on bail, bail can only be given if the court is satisfied there is no significant risk of further offending
- Bail will only granted in exceptional circumstances for murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, rape or attempted rape if the D has already served a custodial sentence for such a crime
- For murder, bail can only be granted by a judge at the Crown Court
- Bail will be restricted for adult Class A drug users under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 in certain circumstances.
- The focus has recently changed from ensuring the right to liberty for the accused to ensuring the public is protected
- if no bail is granted the suspect is remanded in custody
Appeals for bail
- The D must be taken before a Magistrates' Court at the first opportunity if the police refuse bail
- Only one further application is allowed if bail is refused unless the circumstances have changed
- An appeal may be made from a Magistrates Court against refusal of bail to judge in the Crown Court
- The Bail Amendment Act 1993, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, gave the prosecution the right to appeal to judge of the Crown Court against the granting of bail for any imprisionable offence
Discussion points for bail
- it is difficult to get the balance right between protecting the public from potentially dangerous criminals and interfering with their liberty when there is a presumption of innocence before trial
- There are over 8000 prisoners on remand at any one time, which is extremely expensive
- About 50% of those remanded are either found not guilty or given a non-custodial sentence. This implies they should have been given bail in the first place.
- Thousands of people every year are having their liberty seriously interfered with, which suggests too many people are being remanded in custody.
- There are instances where people have committed violent crimes including murder whilst on bail. This also occurs whilst people are tagged and on a curfew, suggesting that some people given bail should have been remanded in custody
- The coroners and Justice Act 2009 has shifted the balance towards protecting the public. This may mean that fewer of those suspected if serious offences will be given bail in the future