By JR on Sunday, January 08, 2012
More than 10 per cent of murders in are committed by criminals released on bail for another crime. In the last five years, more than 350 killings were carried out by so-called ‘bail bandits’. It means that more than one violent death a week could have been prevented if the suspect had been locked up instead of being
Despite the worrying scale of serious crime by bailed suspects, ministers are planning a huge rise in the use of bail for suspects. Thousands more could be released every year before their cases reach trial in an effort to save millions in prison costs.
But the move is raising concerns that more innocent people will be victims of suspects who would otherwise have been behind bars.
Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: ‘It’s traumatic enough being a victim of serious crime. It adds insult to injury when a victim finds out that the offender was on bail at the time. ‘These figures are a cause for concern and could further undermine confidence in the justice system.
‘We know that victims want an effective criminal justice system that cuts crime and stops reoffending. ‘That is why justice agencies need to work harder at stopping people committing serious offences while on bail.’
The Tory MP for Witham, Priti Patel, said: ‘The Government has to look at these figures carefully and address how the public can be protected from these individuals. ‘They should also look at how they can clamp down on bail order breaches and, most importantly, make sure these individuals are properly prosecuted. ‘This is making a mockery of the criminal justice system.’
Official figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that over five years, 11 per cent of murders were committed by offenders bailed over another offence. Between 2006 and 2010, some 238 murders were committed by in England and Wales by bailed suspects out of a total of 2,107. Bail bandits committed 125 offences of manslaughter in the same period out of a total of 1,305. They were also responsible for 446 rapes, or nearly 90 every year. That is four per cent of all rapes carried out in the period. In addition, more than 900 sexual offences were committed against children by bailed criminals.
Overall, suspects who could have been locked up were responsible for seven per cent of all serious crimes, including murder, manslaughter, serious assault, rape and sex offences against children.
Bailed suspects commit one crime every four minutes, including a fifth of all burglaries and one in six robberies.
Cases where bailed criminals have committed horrific crimes are among the most notorious in recent years. Father-of-three Garry Newlove, 47,was kicked to death in 2007 after confronting drunks who damaged his wife’s car. His killer, teenage thug Adam Swellings, had been released on bail that morning after being convicted of assault.
Other cases include Jonathan Vass, a 30-year-old ex-bouncer, who slit the throat of his former girlfriend while on bail for raping her.
The figures are the latest to provoke fears that too many criminals are escaping with ‘soft justice’. Last month the Daily Mail revealed that 50 people a day suffer a violent or sexual attack by a convict who has been spared jail.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has proposed a huge increase in the use of bail. Thousands more suspects could be released on electronic tags that alert the authorities if they do not comply with their curfew. Around 9,200 fewer criminals every year will be remanded into custody before trial.
Officials insist the measure will be used only when the alleged offence means there is ‘no prospect’ of the suspect being jailed if found guilty. They say prosecutors will be given the power to challenge bail decisions if they fear the public may be at risk.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Dangerous offenders who pose a threat to society should always be remanded into custody while they await trial.
‘To strengthen this, the Government recently signalled its intention to allow prosecutors to challenge a Crown Court bail decision where they feel a potentially dangerous prisoner could be bailed. 'Bail is only being modified for minor offences where the defendant would not receive a jail sentence if convicted. ‘The decision to grant bail is taken by the police and courts based on the full facts of each case.
'They take extreme care, particularly when making decisions about cases involving violent crimes.
‘The overwhelming majority of people bailed do not reoffend and are often given strict conditions such as electronic tags and curfews. ‘Anyone who reoffends while on bail will usually receive a longer sentence as a result.’