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.

6 Breach and outcomes


6.1 Approaches to breach varied across schemes when information was requested in 2009. For example in one scheme breach proceedings began if bailees were 15 to 20 minutes late for appointments; whereas in others two warning letters were given for non-attendance before breach proceedings were begun. Overall, in the areas who supplied breach data, nearly three quarters of bail supervision orders were completed successfully, compared to around a quarter ending because of breach or the bailee being remanded12 . The remaining ended because the order was revoked for a non-specified reason, or because the bailee had died.

6.2 There was no comparable population to contrast this breach rate with, but it was felt by bail workers in the workshop that breach was not a major issue with supervised bail. Furthermore, judicial survey respondents who answered the question on breach, 9 said breach rates were low, 5 said breach rates were average, and 4 said breach rates were high. Those respondents who said that supervised bail breach rates were low were most likely to say that perceived breach rates influenced their use of supervised bail.

6.3 As reported above, some bailees said that they had previously breached regular bail, but had fully complied with supervised bail, which suggests that supervised bail can encourage compliance for individuals. However, some bailees interviewed said that they had breached their supervised bail order, which, like the numeric data described above, shows that supervised bail can reduce breach, but it cannot eradicate it in every case.


6.4 Across the schemes that recorded the outcomes of cases where there was a supervised bail order, around a fifth had resulted in custodial sentences, and around two fifths had resulted in community sentences. The remaining had resulted in a fine, admonishment, deferred sentence, or had resulted in no disposal, for example where accused were found not guilty or there were no further proceedings.

6.5 Custodial sentences were found to be less common when bail supervision was successfully completed than when it was terminated, suggesting that successfully completing bail supervision may encourage the application of community sentences over custodial ones. This was reflected in the judicial survey, in which only one respondent said that successful completion of supervised bail does not encourage the use of community sentences over prison sentences. It was also reflected in some bailee interviews where bailees talked about the positive report written about them by their bail worker for the judiciary.


Email: Carole Wilson

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