Monday Message 08.01.24
Dear colleagues and friends,
We hope all our members have managed to have some time off over the Christmas and New Year period and are returning to our courts refreshed.
We are reminded whilst we have been able to spend time with loved ones, many have spent weeks, months and years away from family and friends in custody awaiting trial. The remand population of England and Wales has increased from 9,000 pre-Covid19 to now over 16,000. Every one of these people are innocent until proven guilty and many will have served a lengthy prison sentence by the time they are acquitted by a jury. This is unacceptable in a civilised society. Incarceration should be a last resort not a default position. Remand in custody comes at great financial cost, wrecking families and life chances for the innocent.
An individual is entitled to only two bail applications (unless circumstances change) and it is difficult to successfully apply for bail after a refusal. There is no periodic review of bail and once refused a person can remain in custody long after a sentence could have been served and risks to witnesses, re-offending and failing to surrender have dissipated.
There must be more we can do. Let’s be more inquisitive and creative with bail conditions, including GPS monitoring, recognising the harm done by lengthy periods on remand. We at the Criminal Bar will work with our Solicitors to identify cases suitable for bail, appeal refusals and press the courts to reduce the remand population.
As we press government for increased funding for RASSO specialist barristers we ask all RASSO barristers to complete our survey which will be circulated later this week, together with a supporting note. We appreciate you completing this survey to help us in our work.
Dates for your diary
Our Spring Conference this year will take place on Saturday 27th April at Inner Temple. The topic is ‘RASSO’ and whilst speakers are still being lined up, if you would like a seat to attend, please respond to this email and once formal bookings open, we will contact you.
A Young Bar Day in May is being arranged via the CBA Young Bar Committee – more on that later this month.
Wishing you all the best in 2024. Be excellent as always!
Tana Adkin KC
Chair, Criminal Bar Association