In the Media

Murder committed every ten days by criminal on bail

PUBLISHED October 23, 2012

On average, three offenders per month were convicted of murder while already on bail for another crime last year.

Nearly 40 criminals were found guilty of killing a member of the public while still at large in 2011, with 436 murders over the past 12 years being committed by someone on bail.

A further 180 crimes are committed by offenders every day while on bail, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice, with 65,627 people convicted in 2011.

Experts have suggested the figure could be even higher than feared, as bail conditions are not always officially recorded, according to a newspaper.

Some have attributed the worrying figures to rising pressure to reduce the prison population, with criminals being set temporarily free from jail as they await a court case or police investigation.

The total number of murders committed by those on bail has risen on average over the past decade, with 25 in 2002 compared with 37 in 2011.

In 2007, 50 people were murdered by someone on bail.

Last night, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select committee said he was shocked by the figures.

Keith Vaz told the Daily Mail: "We need to review our bail laws. I am shocked by these figures.

"Judges must consider very carefully applications for bail.

"These criminals have already been identified by the justice system as potentially dangerous, and we must use that knowledge to keep our communities safe."

David Green, from the Civitas think tank, told the newspaper the justice system was "giving the benefit of the doubt to people who don't deserve the benefit of the doubt".

Justice minister Helen Grant admitted the total could be an underestimate, saying: "The recording of information on whether or not the offence was committed while the offender was on bail is known to be incomplete.

"The information held does not indicate the nature of the earlier offence for which the bail was granted but it is likely that most of the offences summarised in the table will have been committed while the offender was on bail for a less serious offence."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Dangerous offenders who pose a threat to society should always be remanded into custody while they await trial.

"To strengthen this, the Government recently changed the law to allow prosecutors to challenge a Crown Court bail decision where they feel a potentially dangerous prisoner could be bailed.

"The decision to grant bail is taken by the police and courts based on the full facts of each case.

"They take extreme care, particularly when making decisions about cases involving violent crimes.

"The overwhelming majority of people bailed do not reoffend and are often given strict conditions such as electronic tags and curfews. Anyone who reoffends while on bail will usually receive a longer sentence as a result."

Earlier this year, it was revealed criminals were still being granted bail despite some having hundreds of convictions.

One individual was given bail despite having 382 previous convictions and cautions, including 125 of failing to surrender to bail.

Another had 304 convictions and cautions, including 60 for breaching bail. He broke his bail conditions again but was still not jailed.

In October 2010, ambulance technician Jonathan Vass was jailed for a minimum of 30 years for murdering his ex-girifriend Jane Clough while on bail for her rape.