As the Deputy will be aware, recent changes to the bail laws were introduced in the Criminal Justice Act 2017, with the aim of strengthening the bail system and making the law as effective as possible in protecting the public against crimes committed by persons on bail. 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 Criminal Justice Act 2017 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.
In terms of available statistics, the Deputy will appreciate that given the new bail laws were only introduced in 2017, the full impact of these provisions will not yet be reflected in the official recorded crime statistics. It is too early to assess whether or not these changes are having the desired effect. It is important to await the evidence of the impact of this new legislation and take the time to evaluate the effect that this Act is having before we explore further changes to the law.