SHOULD THE COURTS DENY BAIL? – This has always been a highly contended subject. On one hand a suspect is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law; yet there are concerns for public safety if bail is granted.
One of the pressing issues on bail is space; that is if the courts deny bail whilst a suspect awaits trial then they have to be kept somewhere at the cost of the taxpayer and there is already little space to accommodate the growing numbers.
Indeed the Ministry of Justice has recognized this issue and place pressure on the courts to grant bail where appropriate. The issue is ‘what is appropriate?’
A recent report by the Ministry of Justice, under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that no less than 56 murders were perpetrated by suspects on bail last year alone.
In 2007 19 year old Adam Swellings was bailed after appearing before the courts on the charge of assault. During his time on bail he murdered Gary Newlove, a father of three, by kicking him to death with the help of two others.
In another case in 2010, 30 year old Jonathan Vass was charged with raping his girlfriend, 26 year old Jane Clough. Vass was given bail by the court and then murdered her by stabbing her over 70 times.
After Vass was convicted and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years Jane’s parents have continuously campaigned in order to get the law changed. It is little wonder why they feel that Jane was betrayed by the justice system.
The report also indicates that those suspects on bail are now responsible for an average of one murder every week and statistics clearly show that such murders have risen by 37 per cent in the last year alone.
Of all the murders that occur in Britain each year suspects on bail are now responsible for no less than one in seven of these.
There can be little arguing that we have created a society, through political correctness and human rights, that is leaving innocent people vulnerable to criminal acts against them. There are victims groups who are clearly stating that many lives could have been saved if the courts simply denied bail – could this be argued?
Murder is just one aspect of criminal activities by those on bail; indeed we can chalk up rape, burglary, assault and many others and the report is even more damning when you realise that the average suspect on bail goes on to commit a crime within ten minutes of being granted bail.
It would appear that the British courts are in desperate need of a review and a system that would substantially reduce the risk to the public. Unfortunately with laws, such as the Human Rights Act, it is evident that a criminal’s right takes precedence over that of their actual or potential victims.
Again it is well established that our prisons are already overcrowded and therefore remanding a suspect whilst awaiting trial has to be carefully considered so as not to place the public at any undue risk; however the latest figures clearly indicate that the public are indeed being placed at risk.
“If the authorities have let this happen through sheer incompetence then they need to scale back immediately the use of remand on bail for people suspected of serious crimes.
If, on the other hand, they have decided that one extra murder a week is an ‘acceptable’ figure, it only shows how much the public is put at risk by an obsession with keeping down prisoner numbers.” Peter Cuthbertson, director of the Centre for Crime Prevention think-tank
Mr. Cuthbertson has a point but the question remains, ‘where do we put suspects when the prison system is already overcrowded’?
Look carefully for a moment at the number of convicted criminals who are given suspended sentences or community service orders. These are also growing and the only attributable reason is the lack of prison space.
Just how bad is the situation? The Ministry of Justice report listed 60,129 crimes last year that were committed by those on bail. Of these some 42,302, were classified as ‘indictable’ offences; that is these being the most serious of crimes.
Apart from those given bail for suspicion of murder there were 16 people charged with manslaughter and 684 charged with serious and violent assault.
Looking further into the report some 111 suspected rapists were also let out on bail, 166 suspected sex offenders against children and no less than 6,372 suspects for burglary; in fact one in every five burglaries occurred by those suspects whilst on bail.
It was of course the former Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clark, who imposed strict limits on prison remand in order to reduce the cost; this of course has left members of the public vulnerable to criminal activity.
The current system of remand basically states that no person can be remanded unless it is certain that such a person would be convicted in a court of law that would require a prison sentence.
It cannot be disputed that the current justice system is in disarray and that it needs a complete overhaul in order to protect the general public, however, it could be that Mr. Cuthbertson is correct in his assessment in that the government considers the current levels ‘acceptable’ compared to the cost of remanding suspects.