QCCL Welcomes changes to Youth Bail laws
Under the new law, the police and courts will be required to release children on bail unless there is an unacceptable risk: that the child will not surrender into custody or on release commit an offence; or endanger the safety or welfare of a person or interfere with a witness or otherwise obstruct the course of justice.
We know that 80% of children in youth detention in Queensland are on remand. We also know that only about 16% of those people go on to receive a custodial sentence. Therefore, the vast majority of them are spending an unnecessary amount of time in detention and learning how to be better criminals.
"These issues can only be addressed by changing the law to keep children out of detention"says Mr Cope.
These changes are also consistent with the fundamental principle that people are presumed innocent. The presumption of innocence means that a person is not to be treated as guilty until that finding has been made by a court. That is to say, there is a presumption in favour of granting bail
Many are concerned about the risks of granting bail.
None of the statistics indicate that if bail is allowed further offending is more probable than not, even where the person has previous convictions
Between 70 and 80% of those on bail do not reoffend.
Less than one percent of people who were charged while on bail were charged with a 'serious offence' ie murder, grievous bodily harm, rape or armed robbery.
People who are charged with offending while on bail are most likely to be charged with, and to be on bail for property or public order type offences. Such offences are often of a minor nature. While these offences can have a significant impact on victims, often they would not lead to a sentence of imprisonment. In our view this does not justify depriving a person of their fundamental right to liberty.
"In our view, bail serves two legitimate purposes. Firstly, to secure the attendance of the accused person before the court at trial. The second is to prevent any interference with the course of justice particularly, interference with witnesses."says Mr Cope
"The presumption of innocence dictates that the State has no higher duty to protect its citizens from the risk a person charged might commit an offence than it has to protect them from the risk other people walking the street might commit one."says Mr Cope
"We know from elsewhere that police activity is critical to reducing the population on remand. Police have to be encouraged not to charge for breaches of bail and to exercise their discretion when considering whether to charge juveniles at all" says Mr Cope
For further information contact Michael Cope President QCCL on 07 3223 5939 during office hours and at all times on 0432 847 154