NSW gets tough on bail law reform

The first major overhaul of controversial NSW bail laws in 34 years will abolish all presumptions against awarding and denying bail.

The NSW government has rejected the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission to introduce a universal presumption in favour of bail, and additional applications for bail for adults.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, flanked by Attorney General Greg Smith and Police Minister Mike Gallacher, said the government would introduce a "simpler" Bail Act by removing complexities such as the presumptions scheme, which has confounded the community.

"We have all been left scratching our heads from time to time about the inconsistency in which the current bail law is applied," Mr O'Farrell said.

"Accused criminals who pose a serious risk to community safety or are likely to commit further crimes will not get bail under this model.

"Under the current law, decisions about bail are made based on the offence a person has been charged with – not the risk they pose to the community. Our reforms will ensure the risk to the community is the first thing taken into account."

Mr O'Farrell said under the new laws, the police and courts would consider whether a person posed an unacceptable risk of endangering community safety, committing a serious offence, interfering with witnesses, or absconding.

Mr Smith said the Bail Act had been amended 85 times since its introduction 34 years ago, making it inconsistent and overly complex.

"The current system of presumptions is inconsistent, resulting in bail decisions which sometimes don't seem to make sense."

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione also welcomed the changes.

However, bail reform advocates were concerned that the removal of a presumption in favour of bail would undermine the legal principle of a presumption of innocence.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop