Consultation 15.08

15.08 Bail and Murder

The above paper sets out for consultation possible changes to the rules governing enforcement of bail conditions and the decision whether to grant bail when a defendant has been charged with murder, including where the defendant is already on bail in respect of other charges.

This consultation asks whether the rules governing the enforcement of bail conditions and the grant of bail to suspects charged with murder should be revised in the light of recent high profile cases of murder and manslaughter committed by persons on bail. It examines the issues surrounding the grant of bail and the possible options available for recalibrating the law or procedures to provide a greater emphasis on public safety.

The paper looks at the ‘presumption of bail’ under the Bail Act 1976 and its application to those charged with murder. It asks for opinions on whether any change is necessary and, if so, whether the statutory test should be amended or a change made to the particular risks considered by the courts in deciding whether to grant bail. Views are also requested on whether hearings following alleged breaches of bail by defendants charged with murder should be heard in the Crown Court where the judge so directs, rather than in a magistrates’ court as at present.

Some of the matters under consideration are also relevant where defendants are facing charges less serious than murder. These include the role of the CPS in making representations against the grant of bail once a defendant has been convicted and the relevance of the likely sentence when a court is considering bail. Also discussed are the monitoring of bail conditions, the imposition of conditions that must be met by other agencies before a defendant is released, and the provision of feedback to courts.

The paper can be accessed in electronic form at the following address:

The consultation will end on 12 September 2008. Reponses to the paper should be sent to Gus Ghataura, Law Reform Officer at the following email address: [email protected]