Parliamentary briefing: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

We've prepared three parliamentary briefings on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, including our concerns about pre-charge bail and increased remote hearings

Police officer

We've prepared briefings outlining our views on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill ahead of its:

  • remaining stages in the House of Commons in July 2021
  • committee stage in the House of Commons on 18 May 2021
  • second reading in the House of Commons on 15 and 16 March 2021

Following a Home Office consultation, the bill makes a number of changes to pre-charge bail and the use of release under investigation, including:

  • removing the statutory presumption to release without bail
  • adjusting timescales and authorisation levels for pre-charge bail
  • including victims in the pre-charge bail process, so they are kept informed and can give their views where appropriate

The bill will:

  • make permanent the temporary COVID measures allowing court users to appear remotely via video link
  • allow juries to hear trials via live video link if a court believes this is appropriate
  • allow prisoner escort and custody service (PECS) officers to oversee video remand hearings in place of police officers
  • put measures in place to stop unauthorised recordings
  • make provision for deaf jurors to have access to British Sign Language interpreters

Our view

We support the ambitions of this bill to improve the justice system and help build safer communities.

However, the justice system must be properly funded to deliver on the bill’s aims and to ensure the system can meet the additional pressures this legislation will create.

We also have concerns about the impact changes to pre-charge bail and the increased use of remote hearings will have upon court users.

We welcome the move to enable PECS officers to oversee video remand hearings until it is safe for in-person hearings to resume.

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