The Criminal Justice Act 2017 made a number of changes to the bail laws. Under the Act, the court has the power to refuse bail where there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is likely to commit a serious offence. In assessing this likelihood, the court must take into account the nature and seriousness of the offence, the accused person’s previous offending and may also take into account the danger he or she poses to the public if bail is granted.
The new law also strengthened Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail providing a power of arrest without warrant in certain circumstances, and made provisions to increase the use of curfews and to facilitate the introduction of electronic tagging for those on bail in certain circumstances.
Extensive preparations are underway to ensure these provisions can be implemented and, more importantly, to ensure they can be effective. My Department is chairing a Working Group on Electronic Monitoring which includes the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service, the Courts Service, An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The Working Group submitted a report to my Department's Management Board and these recommendations were considered. Following on from this, my Department has been engaging with the Office of the Government Procurement (OGP) to try and identify a suitable expert to advise the Department on Electronic Monitoring pre-market consultations. Discussions between the Department and the OGP in this regard remain ongoing.
While I am open to revisiting the law if the changes introduced in 2017 are shown to be insufficient, I think the Deputy will agree that it would be premature to do so at present. It is important to await the evidence of the impact of this legislation and take the time to evaluate the effect of these new provisions before further changes in the law can be considered.