Crime suspects freed on bail pending their trials were responsible for an estimated 84,019 offences in 2014. At a rate of approximately 230 crimes every day that averages out at one crime every six and a half minutes, all preventable had the bailed suspects been locked up while awaiting their court appearances.
Crimes committed by the bailed suspects included 128 sex offences against children (or nearly one every three days), 57 rapes and 3,634 burglaries, reports The Daily Star Sunday.
The alarmingly high numbers, suggesting the release of dangerous suspects awaiting trial endangers the general public, will add fuel to the fire regarding the funding of Britain’s criminal justice system.
For some time now guidance for magistrates has pushed them down the road of remanding fewer people in custody to prevent bailed suspects adding to the burden of over-stretched prisons. Funding is always an issue, especially when the Conservative government has pledged to ringfence other areas of spending, such as foreign aid, at a time when reductions in overall public expenditure are demanded.
David Green, Director of the independent think tank Civitas: The Institute for the Study of Civil Society, said:
“The Chief Inspector of Prisons said earlier this month that the under-staffing of the prisons had made them more dangerous and less able to focus on rehabilitating offenders.
“The irresponsible granting of bail to serious, habitual criminals is a result of this pressure on the prison service but the effect has been to put ordinary members of the public at risk.”
The Ministry of Justice has said the situation is, in fact, improving, saying:
“The recorded number of offences committed on bail has fallen by 45 per cent since 2010, to the lowest level since comparable records began in 2000.
“The overwhelming majority of people bailed do not reoffend and are often given strict conditions such as tags and curfews.”
Peter Cuthbertson, the director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, concedes that the figures are improving, but nevertheless blames the overuse of bail for tens of thousands of crimes a year. He said:
“It is extremely worrying that criminals on bail continue to commit crimes such as rape and murder…No one with a serious criminal history should be bailed casually.”