It has been a concern to TPAV that Victoria has seen the pendulum swing too far in favour of accused o enders and away from community safety and the protection of victims. A re-prioritisation is needed within the assessment of bail to restore the balance between the rights of the accused and the safety of the community.
TPAV acknowledges the recent efforts of the Government to address those issues identified in the recent Review of Victoria’s Bail System. The Government’s intention to extend the range of offences that trigger a refusal of bail will support victims and police, making it more difficult for people accused of serious crimes to be granted bail. The recommendations made below are those remaining from our initial Submission to the Review of Victoria’s Bail System, not addressed in Stage One of the Bill (Ref: 8).
- Training relating to circumstances where police are required to give evidence to refuse bail must be incorporated into current police training programs.
- The current LEAP system must be enhanced to ensure that an offender’s bail status and court dates are automatically updated.
- Legislation must be amended so that those who decide on whether an accused is granted bail must give significant regard to the police assessment of the test of ‘unacceptable risk’.
- Police access to courts for bail purposes must be expanded through an enhanced video conferencing capability.
- The current reliance on an unfunded model of weekend and night courts should be reviewed, and if retained on a permanent basis should be adequately staffed with at least 19 additional Police Prosecutors and PSOs to provide a security presence.
For too long we have seen occasions where the current laws have allowed bail decision-makers to give insufficient weight to community safety and expectation. Where there’s an unacceptable risk to the community, we must always err on the side of victims. Our laws need to strongly reflect this sentiment.
Expanding the range of crimes where an accused person must show `good reason’ to be bailed will mean that the onus rests with offenders to show why they should be released back into the community.
We welcome the Government’s intention to provide police with more powers to hear bail applications and remand accused offenders – something 96% of our members agree should happen (Ref: 9). Whilst this amendment will fix an obvious gap in the system, there remain clear areas for improvement for the benefit and safety of offenders, our police and the community.
7 The Police Association of Victoria, Senior Sergeants Opinion Survey, 5 September 2016, p.13; The Police Association of Victoria, ‘Proactive Policing Survey,’ Research Report, (The Police Association of Victoria, 2016), p.10; Research conducted for the Police Association of Victoria, Public Focus Groups Report, 24 June 2016, p.12.
8 The Police Association of Victoria, Submission to the Review of Victoria’s Bail System, (Victoria: The Police Association of Victoria, 2017), p.8.
9 The Police Association of Victoria, Submission to the Review of Victoria’s Bail System, (Victoria: The Police Association of Victoria, 2017), p.7.