Use of bail in domestic abuse cases

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 17th June 2020.

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Photo of Peter Kyle Peter Kyle Shadow Minister (Justice) 2:30 pm, 17th June 2020

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for that contribution. She should never apologise for sharing the experience that she has gained outside this place and brings in here; it is an asset to our deliberations, not a hindrance.

I agree completely. In fact, I was quoting the Minister when I mentioned the now infamous pendulum. I think we all agree that the pendulum has swung the other way. We must always have consideration for the basic right of liberty, including for alleged perpetrators and defendants, which is why getting bail and bail conditions right is essential. What we are talking about here are conditions, not liberty—the conditions on which people are granted liberty.

The Minister’s main concern, if I interpret it correctly, is that new clause 31 could have unintended consequences on other parts of the bail system. Subsection (2) states:

“After subsection (1)(a) insert—

‘(ab) in a DA case, the period of 3 months beginning with the person’s bail start date, or’”.

Subsection (3) continues:

“After subsection (4)(c) insert—

‘(2) A “DA case” is a case in which—

(a) the relevant offence in relation to the person falls within the definition of “domestic abuse” in section 1 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2020’”.

I fail to see how that could have an impact on other crimes. It is very specific. As I say, I understand why Government Ministers want to deal with the challenge that was caused by the Policing and Crime Act 2017 holistically, but we have a specific fix for a specific challenge in front of us now. I believe this would lead to a better piece of holistic legislation, because it would provide a workable template for it to be enacted down the line.

I will not push the new clause to a Division now but will keep this question open. The Minister intimated several times that she would welcome further scrutiny of the clause. I hope that this gives her the opportunity to reflect on this challenge and come up with her own fix for it, perhaps on Report or Third Reading. I do not believe that victims of domestic abuse should continue to suffer any longer from the uncertainty that would be created by this pernicious eventuality. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.