Implementation of the Amended Bail Act 1976 on a Suspect Awaiting Trial

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  • Topic: Criminal law, Bail, High Court of Justice
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  • Published : April 15, 2013
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Bail TMA
Answer both parts of the question:
(a) Describe how the Bail Act 1976 (as amended) is applied to a suspect awaiting trial. [18marks]

Bail can be granted by either the police or the courts to a suspect who has been arrested and allows them liberty, in some cases with conditions, until the next stage of their case such as their first trial. Alternatively if it is believed that the suspect is dangerous to themselves, the general public or witnesses then as stated under s.38 PACE 1984 the suspect must be remanded in custody until the next stage of their case. Similarly if the suspect’s name and address is doubted or if it is reasonably believed that the suspect may fail to attend court for the next stage of their case then the suspect will be denied bail. Additionally if the individual is under arrest on suspicion of murder, manslaughter, rape etc. then the suspect will be automatically denied bail, unless the suspect has previously served a sentence of the same offence as the courts were banned from granting bail in cases of murder, manslaughter, rape etc., which was established in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and also in s.56 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. However this undermined the presumption of innocent until proven guilty in Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (case Caballero v UK) therefore changing legislation so that bail could only be granted if the courts were satisfied that there were exceptional circumstances.

If an individual suspected of murder was granted bail then it would only be granted in the Crown Court; anywhere else would be unlawful.

As aforementioned the police have the power to grant bail to a suspect and this can be granted in three ways.

Under s.4 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the police are provided with the power to grant bail at the place of the arrest. This section was authorised in order to save police officers’ time taking suspects the station where time could be spend more sufficiently elsewhere. This procedure includes filling out a form at the place of arrest and at a later time entered into police records.

Alternatively the police may release a suspect on bail in order to investigate into the case further, which will be before charges are made. Under Bail Act 1976 the suspect must agree to return back to the station otherwise bail must not be granted. The first suspect in the case of Joanna Yeates death, Chris Jeffries, was released on this type of bail. Before the Paul Hookway case this type of bail could last for ridiculous periods of time due to insufficient investigating on the police officers’ part. Thus it was argued that changes should be made and as a result of a ruling in the High Court it was decided that once the suspect had been bailed for up to 96 hours action must take place; the suspect must be charged or relieved of all charges regardless of whether the investigation was incomplete. There were many concerns with this ruling, especially from Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who expressed this decision as a ‘great concern’. The Government shared these views and passed new legislation at extreme speed to ensure that the police could grant bail until the investigation was completed. This new legislation is called the Police (Detention and Bail) Act 2011.

The last type of bail, granted by the custody officer at the police station, is settled after the suspect is charged for the offence. Under Bail Act 1976 the suspect, once charged by the police, can be released on bail granted that they attend the later arranged court date at the local Magistrate’s court. The aforementioned details of s.38 PACE 1984 apply here when deciding whether the custody officer should grant or dismiss bail (as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994). If the police find that the suspect does not conform to follow through with the next stage of their procedure then the police have the power to arrest the suspect....
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