Sexual Offences: Remand in Custody

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 13 September 2022.

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Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps he is taking to help ensure that a suspect remanded in custody pending trial for sexual assault will not be released prior to a court hearing; and if he will make statement.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The Bail Act 1976 provides a presumption in favour of bail, which recognises that a person should not be deprived of their liberty unless necessary for the protection of the public or the delivery of justice.

Defendants have a right to apply for bail whilst they are remanded in custody, and at every hearing while a defendant is remanded in custody the court has a duty to consider whether he/she should be granted bail.

The courts decide on a case-by-case basis whether a defendant presents such a bail risk as to warrant custody. Bail can only be refused where there are substantial grounds for believing that the defendant would abscond, commit further offences, interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice. Where a person has been charged with or convicted of a second serious offence such as a serious sexual offence, the presumption in favour of bail does not apply unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The Government is working to ensure the courts have all the information they need to make an informed decision about the risk posed by a defendant. We are piloting a Bail Information Service to provide better information than that currently available to the court. This information can help to prevent the release of individuals who pose significant public protection risks. The pilot has been extended until April 2023 to help inform decisions around the design and development of a potentially permanent future dedicated and proactive service in courts and prisons in England and Wales.

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