Criminal Justice Bill
Lord Carlisle of Bucklow (Conservative)
I support the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. As I understood it—perhaps I have misunderstood; if so, I apologise—the amendment of my noble friend Lady Anelay related to the delay between the person originally being bailed and eventually being taken to the police station. If so, my understanding is that the present position is that we have a welcome power—I certainly welcome it—for a constable, on arresting someone, to bail him at somewhere other than in a police station. That provides flexibility and saves much potential wasted police time and it means that people do not have to be unnecessarily taken to a police station, which may be a considerable distance away, and that they do not have to be detained while the various documents are gone through. That is all sensible, desirable and welcome.
On the other hand, as the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, mentioned, there should be some time limit on the time in which a person is required to attend at a police station. New Section 30A(3) states:
"A person released on bail under subsection (1)"—
which I understand to be a person released on bail other than at a police station—
"must be required to attend a police station".
However, no time limit is put on the time during which that should take place. I believe that Justice and the Law Society are right to say that there should be some limitation on the period during which that bail should last. Presumably by its very nature, bail for someone on the point of arrest in relation to street bail is likely to involve an offence of a lesser degree of seriousness than that involved if he had been formally taken to a police station. If the person is merely told that he can go home on bail but not told anything about when he must appear at a police station, he may well go home to another part of the country, stay there for some weeks and suddenly find, out of the blue—when he has pretty well forgotten about the whole issue—that he has been summoned to go to a police station.
I say that because new Section 30B makes it clear that the notice that the person is given at the time must,
"inform him that he is required to attend a police station".
However, it is purely discretionary in that he merely "may" specify the police station and the time when he is required to attend. He may well be told to go home on bail without any indication at that stage—other than being told that he must attend a police station—of when that will be. I should have thought that it was sensible that there should be a final time limit of four weeks, as the Law Society and Justice suggest, before the end of which he should be required to attend at a police station.
I say to my noble friend Lady Anelay that the only matter that makes me hesitate is that if I am right that her amendment could have that effect, it is rather a long-winded way of saying what I should have thought could have been met if one merely added the words "within four weeks" at the bottom of the second line on page 3 of the Bill.