Labour’s bail laws

Some good research by the Sunday News:

VICTIMS’ families fiercely criticised changes to the bail laws fearing that they would let more dangerous criminals out on the streets.

Now new figures released show nearly 10 per cent, or 5000 more offenders, were freed on bail when the Bail Amendment Act 2007 came in.

And more than a third were facing serious violent charges, including manslaughter and murder.

Fortunately the changes have since been repealed.

In 2006, less than 48,000 defendants were bailed by the courts – that rose to 50,910 in 2007. After the new bail laws were brought in, the numbers of accused freed on bail rose dramatically to 55,730, according to Ministry of Justice figures obtained by Sunday News under the Official Information Act.

Of those bailed in 2008, almost 20,000 were facing serious violence charges and more than 14,000 were charged with drugs offences.

What would be interesting is how many of those released on bail had previous convictions?

The 2007 Bail Act had changed the law so defendants facing trial or sentence had to pose a “real and significant risk” of breaching bail, reoffending or interfering with a witness for bail to be declined. Before, the defendant only had to pose a “risk”.

This was done as a cost saving measure by Labour.

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