Supervised Bail in Scotland: Research on Use and Impact

This report outlines findings on the use and impact of supervised bail in Scotland from a research project which included analysis of operational data, economic analysis, a workshop with bail workers, surveys of the judiciary and Procurators Fiscal, and interviews with people who have been on supervised bail.

10 Conclusions

10.1 We have seen that supervised bail was, at the time of the research, not available in every part of Scotland, and that the number of supervised bail orders has been declining nationwide in recent years. Nonetheless, we have also seen that supervised bail is a service which, by supporting people to comply with bail conditions, can keep people out of prison prior to their trial. This not only represents good value for money in terms of the relative costs of supervised bail and remand, but also has a positive impact on some bailee's short and long term behaviour, aspirations and family relationships, and where bail supervision is completed successfully, it can also encourage the use of community sentences rather that prison sentences. It thus potentially reduces both the remand prison population, and the sentenced prison population.

10.2 Clearly, supervised bail does not eradicate breach of bail, and we have seen that around a quarter of bail supervision orders are not completed successfully, for various reasons. However, we have also heard from people who had previously breached regular bail, but who had gone on to comply fully with supervised bail, and who expressed a strong sense of personal pride about this fact. So while supervised bail cannot guarantee that accused will not breach their conditions, it is a useful tool for encouraging and supporting compliance in a way not possible with standard bail conditions. And beyond its primary aim of reducing use of remand, and supporting compliance, supervised bail can in some cases assist bailees with their longer term process of desistance from offending behaviour.

10.3 This can only happen in the specific kind of 'borderline' cases for which supervised bail is appropriate, where there are good processes in place for the screening of potential bailees, and where there is good local awareness of and buy in to supervised bail. If there is to be optimal use of supervised bail in Scotland, it needs to be ensured that these three conditions are met throughout the country.


Email: Carole Wilson

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