Justice | Monitoring the number of crimes committed by those on bail
To ask the Minister for Justice the extent to which the number of crimes committed by persons while on bail has reduced on annual basis over the past six years, if at all; if previous legislation has been instrumental in this regard; if further legislation is contemplated; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Justice the degree to which the number of crimes being committed by persons while on bail has fluctuated in the past five years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the restricting of a person’s liberty is a serious issue, given the Constitutional presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
While the State’s bail laws do provide for the refusal of bail in certain circumstances, the presiding judge is entirely independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and the decision to grant bail in a particular case is solely a matter for the judge.
As the Deputy may be aware, the Bail Act 1997, which followed the 1996 Constitutional Referendum on the issue, enabled a court to refuse bail for a person charged with a serious offence to prevent the risk of another serious offence being committed while on bail.
The State’s bail laws have been further strengthened on three more occasions, specifically by the Criminal Justice Act 2007, the Criminal Justice Act 2015, and most recently by the Criminal Justice Act 2017.
In considering whether to refuse bail under the 1997 Act, the Court is required to have regard to persistent serious offending by an applicant and, in specific circumstances, the nature and likelihood of any danger to a person or to the community from granting bail.
The 2017 Act provides for stricter bail terms for repeat serious offenders, including the use of curfews and strengthens Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail. If an individual fails to comply with any bail conditions, the judge will issue a bench warrant and this gives An Garda Síochána power to arrest and bring the person before the court to answer all charges relating to the bail.
While I am advised by An Garda Síochána that the State’s amended bail laws have proven to be effective, all legislative provisions are kept under review in light of the existing provisions and safeguards relating to the granting of bail. However, I can inform the Deputy there are no immediate plans to introduce further bail legislation at this time, but I will keep the law under active review.
The table below shows the number of crime incidents reported in the specified year, the number of those incidents where the incident record indicated at least one of the persons associated with the incident as a ‘Suspected Offender’ were flagged as having being suspected of committing the offence while on bail.
|Year||Total Incidents||Incidents Committed while on Bail||Percentage|
* Incidents reported up to and including 30-Jun-2022. Figures were collated based on data from PULSE as of 1:30am on the 01st July 2022. They are operational and may be liable to change. Crime counting rules are applied to incident counts.
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