My matter is for the Attorney-General.
It relates to what I think might potentially be a gap in the State’s laws in relation to indictable offences committed by individuals while they are on bail. It may even apply to those on summons, parole, serving a Community Corrections Order or otherwise under sentence as well.
Specifically, I am referring to situations in which an offender on bail (or perhaps in any of those other categories that I just described, too) is bailed to appear at the next court sitting date but doesn’t ultimately appear to face the magistrate for some reason.
My reading of these matters is that, technically, the person would then no longer be on bail. If that’s true, then any further offence that they might commit subsequent to that court date would also presumably not be classified as ‘an offence committed whilst on bail’.
As the Attorney would obviously be well aware, the act of committing an offence on bail is directly addressed in Section 30B of the Bail Act, and can attract an extra penalty of up to three months’ additional imprisonment or 30 penalty units.
Those further sanctions are, obviously, inapplicable to someone who is not regarded as being on bail at the time they commit the offence.
These issues have become all the more concerning for me as the COVID-related changes to various aspects of the operation of the State’s justice system have become entrenched over the course of the past year.
We do now know that, among many other consequences, thousands of people have been leaving prison earlier than originally expected, there have been many alterations to bail reporting arrangements, and that there are now very long delays to court hearings.
Amid all of those circumstances, it’s not unreasonable to contemplate the possibility that there may even have been a higher than usual number of people committing further indictable offences shortly after leaving
prison – and potentially benefiting from the possible loophole about which I’m talking.
Now it may very well be that the Attorney is able to set me straight on all of this very quickly, and definitively tell me there’s not a loophole or problem here. Obviously, I would welcome hearing that, and the reasons why, if that is indeed the case.
Assuming any of my concerns is accurate, though, the action I seek is a clarification of whether and how the Government is planning to close the gaps in the relevant laws about which I have spoken this evening.