This week, the Justice Select Committee published their report on the role of adult custodial remand in the criminal justice system (17 January 2023) drawing on evidence from the CJA and others. The CJA worked with our Remand Expert Group and others to respond to the Justice Select Committee’s inquiry.
We welcome the Committee’s report and are pleased to see that many of our concerns and recommendations have been acknowledged and put forward, including the urgent scaling-up of court-based Bail Information Services (BIS); increasing suitable bail accommodation, including for women; strengthening alternatives to remand and improving prosecutors’ communication of remand decisions, so bail can be reapplied for.
We also welcome the Committee’s focus on some of our members’ important work, such as JUSTICE, Prison Reform Trust, Transform Justice and Women in Prison.
Urgent scaling up court-based Bail Information Services (BIS)
We told the Committee that there is inconsistent provision of Bail Information Services (BIS) in courts, despite them being a vital service for reducing the number of people being remanded into prison. If more proactive court-based BIS were available, prosecutors could address any concerns they may have with BIS staff, which are causing them to oppose bail and rely on remand.
To reduce the number of people entering custody on remand, we recommended the urgent scaling up of court-based BIS and proactive bail support schemes, so that they are routinely available to provide bail packages in all magistrates courts. The Committee agreed and recommended that: