Covid-19: Remand on Bail

Attorney General – in the House of Commons on 28th April 2020.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Transport)

What discussions she has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on CPS management of people remanded on bail during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Attorney-General

[Inaudible]—capacity across the criminal justice system, and our focus is to ensure that the most dangerous offenders are dealt with as a priority. All cases with an approaching trial date, including bail cases, are under review to ensure that serious and time-sensitive cases are prioritised for trial and that any bail conditions remain suitable.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Transport)

Given that there was already a backlog of more than 37,400 Crown court cases before the covid-19 outbreak—I am sure that many of those defendants were remanded in custody—what is the CPS doing to ensure that bail hearings for people who perhaps do not need to be remanded in custody can be expedited and that people can be released into the community when it is safe to do so? In that way, we can ease the pressures on the prison estate in terms of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman The Attorney-General

Clearly, any bail should be for the shortest possible period, because it restricts the ability of an individual to carry out their normal life while they remain innocent until proven guilty. Each case needs to be assessed on the individual facts, including the potential risks posed by a defendant of, for example, further offending or absconding. There are statutory limits underpinning the conditions that can be imposed, and the defendant has a right to apply to the court to vary or remove any conditions of bail. We need to ensure that these cases continue to be dealt with expeditiously, and the CPS is working with the judiciary to consider options for restarting some trials while maintaining social distancing.