On 15 November 2021, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on proposals for reform on the arrangements for Bail and Release from Custody in Scotland.
Community Justice Scotland responded to the consultation in February 2022, highlighting the development of the proposals as key to progressing towards improving the lives of those in contact with the justice system, their families and communities.
Key points included:
- CJS welcome this opportunity to progress reform of the arrangements underpinning bail and remand, custody and release. People do better when their links with family and community are maintained and supported, and bail should be used wherever it is safe to do so. Any return from custody to home community should be accompanied by the offer of support targeted at identified needs and building on strengths.
- Victim safety considerations and risk assessment should remain central to the process, alongside meaningful support for victims and their families.
- CJS think that bail should be the default option unless there is an evidenced risk indicating custody is necessary. We recommend a review of section 23C of the Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1995 to support a consistent and robust approach to these decisions.
- A need for an enhanced evidence base for better understanding why bail and remand decisions are made by sentencers.
- Enhanced social work involvement throughout the processes is necessary for improvement, but also highlights likely resource and capacity issues, particularly for local authorities, courts and others involved in the delivery of community justice including the third sector.
- We recommend a full review of Throughcare provision, in order to better understand how provision can and must change to improve access to services and support for more people.