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Justice: Custody

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to reduce the number of accused persons who are remanded in custody and subsequently found not guilty; and whether there is a person with specific responsibility for that matter. [HL652]

The purpose of a bail hearing is for the court to determine whether the circumstances of the case and the defendant's history suggest that the defendant presents such a risk to the course of justice or to the safety of the public as to warrant a remand in custody. This issue is entirely separate from the determination of guilt or innocence, which is for the trial alone. The fact that a defendant who has been remanded in custody is subsequently found not guilty does not mean that the remand decision was wrong.

While the Government believe that bail should be withheld in all appropriate cases, we also believe that no one should be remanded in custody unless the circumstances justify it. Our approach over several years, therefore, has been to provide bail services that allow the courts to make bail the appropriate decision in more cases. These services include the provision of electronic monitoring of defendants on bail as an alternative to custody and the introduction of bail support and accommodation schemes to provide, where possible and where necessary, suitable addresses to which defendants can be bailed and where they can get help to comply with their bail conditions.