Belfast Telegraph

Ford seeks views on proposed changes to bail legislation

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice

Justice Minister David Ford has published a consultation on the Northern Ireland Law Commission’s Report on Bail in Criminal Proceedings.

David Ford said that the Law Commission Report, which makes 55 recommendations, covering six key themes, aims to simplify, modernise and improve confidence in the bail process through the creation of a single Bail Bill.

He said: “Bail legislation and its operation are vital aspects of the Criminal Justice system. Following the review by the Law Commission I have decided to consult on the 55 recommendations outlined in the report.

“Unlike England & Wales and the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland does not currently have a specific piece of legislation that codifies the law in relation to bail.

“There are various disparate pieces of legislation regarding Bail and the report by the Law Commission will aim to provide a much clearer legislative base for practitioners and the public under a single Bail Bill.

“Proposals outlined include improved provision of information to victims on bail decisions and better support to prevent re-offending. These proposals are designed to improve confidence in the bail process and I would therefore welcome views on the Report and draft legislation.”

The consultation runs until 31 October 2013.

Notes to editors:

1. The Northern Ireland Law Commission produced and laid its Report on Bail and draft Bill before the Assembly in September last year.

2. The Report proposes a single unified Bail Act with a statutory definition of bail; simplified offences and powers of arrest around failure to surrender to bail; and a proposal for a new “bail guarantor” system.

3. The Report’s 55 recommendations cover the legal framework surrounding bail; how bail is enforced; the requirements placed on both those on bail; rights to bail; and certain special requirements for cases involving children and young people.

4. There are six key themes: the legal framework; the enforcement of bail; personal recognizances and sureties; bail in respect of accused persons; bail in respect of children and young people; and non-legislative recommendations such as bail information; bail support; and provision for victims of crime.

5. The Report also made recommendations on non-legislative matters – issues such as bail information and support schemes and what victims might expect when bail is being considered or granted.

6. The consultation paper, along with the screening assessment documents, can be viewed on the consultation page of the DoJ website at Copies can be made available in other formats on request.

7. Responses should be returned by 31 October 2013 to:

Bail Bill Consultation
Criminal Law Branch
Department of Justice
Massey House
Stormont Estate

Telephone: 028 9016 9604
Text phone: 028 9052 7668

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