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
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
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