One year ago Gary Newlove was murdered by a suspect on bail. It seems an appropriate time for Shadow Justice Secretary Nick Herbert to make a commitment to toughen both bail conditions and the punishments for those who break those conditions. Mr Herbert’s proposals are summarised in the graphic on the right. They are the first announcements in a week that the Tories have identified as ‘crime week’ in their summer grid. David Cameron has returned from holiday today and is expected to play a part in this themed week.
Nearly 13,000 people were fined for breaching bail conditions last year but the average fine was just £61.07. Latest data says that 13% of defendants charged with murder, and 85% of manslaughter suspects, were on bail. Commenting Mr Herbert said:
“The current system is not working – bail is too easily granted, frequently breached and improperly enforced. Public confidence is undermined when bail conditions are routinely breached, offenders hold the criminal justice system in contempt, and new victims of crime are created unnecessarily. It is time to tighten the bail laws and put public safety first.”
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Mr Herbert pointed to similar reforms already enacted in Scotland. These had included a consideration of "public safety" in the decision to grant bail and had enjoyed cross-party support. They also seem to be consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.