Remand in custody: critical factors and key issues

23 May 2006

Between 1984 and 2004 the proportion of remanded prisoners rose from 12 to 20 percent of the total prisoner population, and the rate of prisoners remanded into custody tripled. In an attempt to identify the factors associated with high and low remand rates the researchers undertook a detailed study of Victoria (which has comparatively low remand rates) and South Australia (which has comparatively high remand rates). Factors associated with increased remand rates included increasing levels of drug and mental health issues, and the informal and formal rules that influence police, police custody sergeants and court bail authorities in their decision to grant bail. Factors associated with lower remand rates included 'enhanced police accountability for bail refusal, improved feedback loops between courts and police, higher transaction costs for custodial remand, and longer bail hearings'. The authors have concluded that the key to good practice in bail decision-making is to ensure that pre-court and non-judicial processes are given due consideration, and they point to the need for enhanced performance monitoring, data collection and research.

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