Bail is at the end of the day a cornerstone of our justice system and something that the Court takes very seriously. Simply put bail is a written promise by a person to come back to court, as and when directed, and to comply with any conditions the court may impose in order to satisfy the perceived risk of releasing a person on bail.
When considering whether or not to grant bail a court must have consideration to the principles contained within section 16 of the Bail Act 1990 (Qld). If the Court is considering bail for a child then s48 of the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld) must also be considered.
Please see our article – Bail in Queensland – How it Works – for more details as to the complexities and requirements of bail undertakings and bail applications.
As of 30 March 2018, the Bail (Domestic Violence) and Another Act Amendment Act 2017 allowed for the introduction of tracking devices to utilised as a condition of bail. The Act is quite clear indicating that the condition of a tracking device can be placed on any person granted bail not just those charged with Domestic Violence Offences.
The Update in Operation
When deciding whether or not to grant bail a Magistrate or Judge will usually have to consider whether or not the proposed conditions will reduce the risk of reoffending, failing to appear and interfering with witnesses. When it comes to tracking devices however this is secondary consideration. The Court must first decide that bail should be granted before it can consider whether or not a tracking condition should be imposed. The expectation is that the condition will improve compliance and community safety. For example, it may provide extra supervision of a person who as a result of a grant of bail is not allowed to attend a certain location or be within a certain distance of a location.
The imposition of a court to impose a tracking condition as part of bail undertaking will require that the defendant be fitted with a tracking device such as an ankle monitor. These devices usually use GPS and mobile networks to monitor and transmit the location of the person required to wear the device.
At present there are some operational issues that can affect the efficiency of using tracking devices as a condition of bail. This includes the coverage of mobile networks (and their associated black spots) and the ability of the devices to transmit the required information. There are also currently concerns about the number of available devices.
The introduction of tracking devices as a support to bail indicates how seriously bail is taken in Queensland. As community concern grows as to the appropriateness of grants of bail the introduction of tracking devices is a clear sign that the Government is attempting to address these concerns using current technology.
Bail is an important consideration in our community. To hold a person in custody without a trial goes against the presumption of innocence and as such bail must always be carefully considered to weigh the risks against the infringement of a person’s liberty. At Howden Saggers Lawyers we understand the complexities of bail applications and the importance of freedom.