Major shake up of Victoria’s bail system

Courtroom

MELBOURNE,23 January:The Andrews Labor Government has today announced that it will establish a Night Court for magistrates to hear

bail requests over weekends and after hours as part of a major shake up of Victoria’s bail system, following the

Bourke Street tragedy on Friday.

Under the changes, the Government will ensure magistrates are available after hours to consider bail applications

for people charged with violent offences where police oppose bail. This will mean more matters are heard by

magistrates, rather than bail justices.

Addressing a media conference Premier Daniel Andrews said, “It’s our job to take the frustration, anger and the deep sadness that Victorians feel after the Bourke Street tragedy and to make sure that’s put into reform and change.”

“It is very clear that our bail system needs a major shake-up and we are getting the best expert advice to make
sure we get this right,” he said.

The Government has already begun working with the Magistrates’ Court to implement a model for an after hours’

bail and remand court. The Government has also asked former Supreme Court Judge and Director of Public

Prosecutions, Justice the Honourable Paul Coghlan, to provide urgent advice to the Government about additional

changes to Victoria’s bail system that will best manage risk and maximize community safety.

In providing this advice, Justice Coghlan will consider a range of matters, including:

• How the necessary balance between protection of the community and the presumption of innocence

should be best reflected in the Bail Act 1977

• The appropriateness of the current tests of exceptional circumstances, show cause and unacceptable risk

• Whether additional offences should be added to show cause or exceptional circumstances categories

• The way in which other relevant circumstances (for example, a history of prior offending or offences

committed while on bail), are considered

• The conduct of bail applications out of hours, including the role of bail justices

The Labor Government has already taken steps to toughen bail laws, with amendments to the Bail Act 1977

reversing the presumption of bail for people who have been charged with serious offences and have convictions

for failing to appear on bail in the past five years.

The changes also doubled the sentence for people who fail to appear on bail and there is now a presumption

against bail if the accused is charged with aggravated carjacking, home invasion or aggravated home invasion.

Justice Coghlan will provide his advice on practical legislative reform by Monday, 3 April 2017, and on any other

relevant matters by Monday, 1 May 2017.

Attorney-General Martin Pakula said, “This comprehensive look at Victoria’s bail system is an important first step following the Bourke Street tragedy.”

“Justice Coghlan is a well-respected Victorian who will work with relevant authorities to provide detailed options
for reform,” he said.

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