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Power: Government Law To Make Bail Harder To Get

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Simon Power
Simon Power

12 December 2008 - The Government today introduced to Parliament a bill designed to make it harder to get bail. The Bail Amendment Bill is the first step in the Government's Action Plan on Violent Crime, which is to be introduced in the first 100 days of government.

It reverses the changes to bail that were introduced by the Labour Government in the Bail Amendment Act 2007. Justice Minister Simon Power says those changes in 2007 ignored public safety by making it easier for people to get bail. "Public safety was not always at the forefront of policy-making in the last term of the Labour Government, and their changes to bail were prime examples of that.

"As part of its move to 'arrest the sharp increase in the prison population', Labour increased the threshold for remand in custody from 'a risk' that the defendant may abscond, interfere with witnesses or evidence, or offend on bail, to 'a real and significant risk'.

"This means that even if a defendant has repeatedly breached his or her bail conditions in the past, they may not be remanded in custody. "Labour even inserted a provision which prevents the court from remanding someone in custody for breaching bail conditions, unless they are 'a real and significant risk'.

"National argued long and hard against these changes because we believe they compromise public safety. "The Law Society, the Police Association, and the Police Prosecution Service all said Labour's changes made it easier to get bail.

"The Bail Amendment Bill returns the threshold to simply 'a risk'. "In the Government's view, the 'risk' test draws the appropriate balance between the rights of accused to be considered innocent until proven guilty and the safety of the public. "We want to return the benefit of the doubt to the public, rather than to the accused, and make absolutely no apology for that," Mr Power says.

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