Bail Law Changes To Take Into Account Greater Impact On Victims

Bail Law Changes To Take Into Account Greater Impact On Victims

Western Australia Attorney General Michael Mischin

Bail Act Changes Give Greater Voice To Victims

Victor P Taffa

  • Victims given greater say in court in relation to bail applications
  • Also aims to reduce risk of unnecessary custody of children in regional WA

For the first time in Western Australia, courts will be required to take into account the views of victims when considering whether to release a person accused of a serious offence on bail, under proposed changes to the State’s bail laws.

Attorney General Michael Mischin said the amendments, which would be introduced to State Parliament today, formed part of the Liberal National Government’s reform agenda to give victims of crime a greater voice in the justice system.

Attorney General Mischin said the Bail Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 provided additional safeguards for victims of violent crime, including family violence.

“These amendments address the potential for victims of family violence being pressured or coerced into entering into surety arrangements on behalf of their current or former abusive partners.” Attorney General Mischin said.

“Additionally, the courts must take into account the views of victims when considering whether to release a person accused of a serious offence from custody and whether granting bail could endanger the safety of victims, other individuals or the community.”

“We know that with family violence, in particular, the victim may be in the best position to predict the likely behaviour of the accused person if they are released on bail.”

The amendments also implement recommendations from the review of the Bail Act, conducted after the WA Coroner handed down his findings into the death of Aboriginal elder Mr. Ward in January 2008.

The Attorney General said there was a clear intent to reduce the risk that came with accused people being unnecessarily remanded in custody, particularly those living in regional and remote WA.

“This Bill seeks to provide flexibility in regard to bail for less serious offences, so that accused people are not held unnecessarily in custody on remand when it was the court or Justice of the Peace’s intention that they should be released on bail.” Attorney General Mischin said.

“This aims to reduce unnecessary transportation of children and young people from regional areas to Perth for remand in custody.”

“These changes are reflective of the Liberal National Government’s commitment to prevent and reduce the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody, and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice system.”

Fact File

  •  The Bill amends the Bail Act 1982, the Courts and Tribunals (Electronic Processes Facilitation) Act 2013 and the Young Offenders Act 1994