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Bills and Laws

Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Bill

The Bill makes changes to the law in two main areas:

  • decisions about granting bail to people accused of a crime
  • arrangements for the release of some prisoners and the support that is provided to those who leave prison

The Bill is at Stage 1


Contents


Overview

The Bill makes changes to the law in two main areas:

  • decisions about granting bail to people accused of a crime
  • arrangements for the release of some prisoners and the support that is provided to those who leave prison
  • When a person accused of a crime appears in court, the court has to decide whether they should be remanded in custody or remain in the community on bail while they await their trial.

    Part 1 of the Bill makes changes to the current law relating to bail in four areas:

    • requiring justice social work to be given the opportunity to provide information to the court when making decisions about bail
    • changing the test that the court must apply when making decisions about bail
    • requiring the court to record reasons for refusing bail
    • allowing time spent on electronically monitored bail to be counted as time served against a custodial sentence

    Part 2 of the Bill makes changes to some prisoner release arrangements and the support provided to those being released. These include:

    • preventing prisoners from being released on:
      • Fridays or the day before public holidays (adding to the existing requirement that prisoners are not released on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)
      • Thursdays in some circumstances
    • replacing home detention curfew for long-term prisoners with a new system that will allow them to be temporarily released to support their reintegration – subject to risk assessment and consultation with the Parole Board
    • giving the Scottish Ministers power to release certain prisoners early in emergency situations to protect the security and good order of prisons or the health, safety or welfare of those in prison
    • requiring certain public bodies (for example local authorities and health boards) to engage in release planning for prisoners
    • requiring the Scottish Ministers to produce minimum standards for throughcare support, provided to prisoners throughout their time in prison and during their transition back into the community
    • allowing victim support organisations to receive certain information about prisoners, including about the release of prisoners

    Why the Bill was created

    The Scottish Government has introduced the Bill to deliver on its commitment to refocus how imprisonment is used. The Bill aims to ensure that, as much as possible, the use of custody for remand is a last resort for the court.

    The Bill also aims to give a greater focus to the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals leaving custody. For example, through the provision of improved support for people leaving prison and access to structured and monitored temporary release. It is intended that this would support a reduction in the risk of future reoffending, improving public safety.