Monday, 18 August 2008

Bail laws must be tightened to make Lincolnshire’s streets safer – Giles McNeill

New evidence of public being put at risk from criminals and dangerous suspects

Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, today added his voice to calls to tighten the bail laws and ensure public safety is put first. New research has revealed that when criminal suspects breach bail, they face weak penalties or none at all. The latest figures show that almost half of all those who breach bail are let off with a fine, the average amount being just £60 – less than a typical town hall fine for a householder who puts out their rubbish on the wrong day.

Conservatives are demanding that tighter bail laws are needed, and have announced proposals to reform two crucial areas of bail law: decisions to bail defendants and enforcing conditions when a suspect is bailed.
• Public safety will be made an explicit consideration in all bail decisions
• Bail will be denied for those previously convicted of the most serious offences
• A new offence of breach of bail, punishable with imprisonment, will be introduced to tighten up the enforcement of bail condition
• Persistent offenders and those who have previously breached bail will lose the presumption of bail

In addition, there is growing public disquiet over the Government’s use of bail hostels to accommodate early release prisoners and criminal suspects. Hundreds of private bail hostels for criminals and suspects are being imposed on residential areas without consultation. They house offenders released before the end of their sentences or people on bail awaiting trial who would otherwise be remanded in custody. The private contractor ClearSprings has already opened around 160 hostels this year including in Lincoln.

Local authorities are being given little or no say in where the hostels are located. Local residents and neighbours of the properties are not excluded too. Conservatives are demanding that the Government suspends the ClearSprings scheme. It also fails to provide adequate support for, and supervision of, suspects and offenders.

Giles McNeill said:
“The current system is not working. Bail is too easily granted, frequently breached and weakly enforced. Public confidence is undermined when bail conditions are routinely breached, and offenders now hold the criminal justice system in contempt. New victims of crime are created unnecessarily. Only Conservatives will take effective action to protect the public.”

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