In 1993, about 59,600 defendants bailed by the police failed to appear. That figure consists of those on police bail who failed to present themselves either at a police station or at a court when required to do so.
Is my hon. Friend aware of the widespread public support for the measures recently introduced by our right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, which tighten procedures relating to bail? Will he assure me that anyone who offends while on bail will. be dealt with most severely and will certainly never be granted bail again?
I thank my hon. Friend for warmly welcoming the proposals in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which tighten bail procedures such as the new police power of arrest for breach of police bail and the ability to attach conditions. It is a source of concern that many people who are charged with an offence and granted bail commit another offence. That leads to an unnecessary 50,000 crimes and an unnecessary 50,000 victims per annum. We have introduced a new power whereby in such circumstances magistrates need not grant bail. We have given them the power, which will be available for them to use. It is a pity that the Opposition could not wholeheartedly support those proposals when the legislation was going through the House.
But what about people on remand in prison who, if found guilty of the offences with which they are charged, serve more time on remand than they would if they had been convicted? In such circumstances, surely bail needs to be looked at objectively, because there are plenty of people inside who should be on bail now.
Of course, bail must be looked at objectively by the courts and magistrates, but many people who have been granted the important privilege of bail have breached that privilege. I do not accept that they have a God-given right to remain at large in the community committing offence after offence. The new power will help to reduce the 50,000 unnecessary victims each year.