Summary of offences dealt with by courts, sentencing outcomes and characteristics of convicted offenders. Additional information on non-court penalties issued by the Police and Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

16. Bail

(Tables 15-16)

Please note that three tables on bail statistics have been removed from the standard tables accompanying this bulletin but these are available for download from the “Additional data” page.

Where a person has been arrested or charged by the police, the police may decide to remand the person in custody. The police will submit a report to the COPFS in respect of the person remanded and where the COPFS decide that he or she is to be prosecuted, they will appear at court on the first lawful day after they were taken into police custody. At this point the accused may apply for bail and the sheriff or judge will decide whether the accused should be released on bail until they next need to appear in court for later stages of the proceedings.

In some circumstances, generally for less serious crimes, the police may decide to release the individual on an undertaking. This means the accused will have their initial appearance in court at a later date. Please note statistics on police undertakings have not been published this year due to concerns around data quality. We will investigate this issue further and provide an update in next year’s bulletin.

Bail orders made, and by main crime type

The number of bail orders decreased by 1 per cent from 47,196 in 2013-14 to 46,560 in 2014-15. Over the longer term numbers have fallen by 25 per cent since a peak of 62,294 bail orders in 2006-07. This is consistent with the longer term trends in volumes of cases coming to court.

In the year to 2014-15 there was a 12 per cent increase in the number of bail orders issued for sexual crimes (from 1,337 in 2013-14 to 1,497 in 2014-15). This is the fourth annual increase and corresponds with the rise in prosecutions for these types of crimes. In the year to 2013-14 there was also a relatively large annual increase in the number of bail orders issued for drug offences (up 11 per cent to 2,573). In contrast there were large annual decreases in the numbers of bail orders issued for crimes of dishonesty (down 12 per cent to 6,695) and handling an offensive weapon (down 7 per cent to 1,471).

Since 2005-06 there have been some large changes in the relative proportions of bail orders issued for each crime group, however these have remained relatively stable since 2009-10. The more substantial changes seen over the last ten years include:

  • Bail orders issued for crimes of dishonesty accounted for around a fifth (21 per cent) of all bail orders issued in 2005-06 falling by seven percentage points to 14 per cent in 2014-15;
  • Common assault accounted for 19 per cent of all bail orders issued in 2014-15. This figure has increased by four percentage points from 15 per cent in 2005-06; and
  • Breach of the peace – accounted for 17 per cent of bail orders in 2014-15, increasing four percentage points from 13 per cent in 2005-06.

Bail-related offences

Bail-related offences cover the offences of breach of bail conditions (e.g. interfering with a witness) and failure to appear in court after being granted bail. A total of 8,467 of bailed-related offences had a charge proved in 2014-15, an increase of 6 per cent from 2013-14 (8,001).

The proportion of bail-related offences as a percentage of all bail orders granted in 2014-15 was 18 per cent. This has remained fairly constant for the six years from 2008-09 but is 7 percentage points higher than in 2005-06 when it was 11 per cent.

Statistics on bail aggravators, which identify all offences that were committed while the offender was on bail, are published in the “Additional data” section, the same place as in previous years.


Email: Gillian Diggins

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