How bail currently works

Bail occurs when an alleged offender charged with a crime by the police is released back into the community until the case comes to court. The decision to grant or deny bail is made by a judge. Generally there will be conditions imposed on that alleged offender such as their place of residence, a curfew, not drinking alcohol etc to name a few common ones.

As Christie’s tragic murder demonstrates, such conditions are largely meaningless and do little, if anything, to protect law-abiding citizens from serious criminals. If bail is denied the alleged offender will be ‘remanded in custody’ - spending time in prison until their case comes to court.

When making the decision whether to grant bail the judge is weighing up the alleged offenders right to be presumed innocent with the right of law-abiding citizens to be protected from them. In many cases the alleged offenders are well known criminals with extensive records.

At present the law as amended by the Labour government in 2002 presumes bail unless the judge deems the alleged offender to pose a serious risk of re-offending while on bail. The onus is on the victim / prosecutor to prove that the offender poses a risk. The Judge then decides to grant bail or not and clearly, judges get this judgement call wrong all too often.