Labour is pushing for the Government to make changes to the justice bill, currently getting its Report Stage in the House of Commons, to allow the Crown Prosecution Service to appeal Judges’ bail decisions where they feel victims may be put at risk.
The prosecution’s right to appeal bail decisions currently only applies to bail granted at a Magistrates' court. There is no mechanism to appeal bail granted at a Crown Court. Labour has tabled an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill that would, in particular circumstances, allow the Crown Prosecution Service to appeal a bail decision of a Crown Court Judge. The amendment will be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow.
Thousands of people have signed a petition run by the Blackpool Gazette to bring about the change in bail law following the tragic murder of Jane Clough last year. Jane was killed by her former partner who had been released on bail following a series of serious sexual and violent assaults against her. Jane’s family have been campaigning for a change in the law.
As well as receiving support from victims’ groups, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kier Starmer QC, last week backed the proposed changes to bail law.
Jenny Chapman MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister, speaking ahead of the debate on the bail amendment, said:
“With the best will in the world, judges can still sometimes make mistakes which lead to tragic consequences. That’s why we have been arguing for this common sense change in the rules. If the Crown Prosecution Service can appeal bail decisions at the Crown Court, that’s an extra barrier of protection for victims of crime.
“John and Penny Clough's dignified campaign has shown how devastating consequences of bail decisions can be. Dangerous offenders must not be freed to commit more crime. When there is compelling evidence against bail the Crown Prosecution Service must be allowed to appeal against decisions they think are wrong.
“We want the Government to act now to protect the public by supporting our amendment. This is a simple safeguard that could have saved Jane's life. We can see no reason to delay the change.”