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Police bail decision-making in Victoria: Private decisions, public consequences.

Colvin, Emma
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Australia and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference 2009: Conference Proceedings. Pg. 51-59.

This paper will present the results of a Masters’ thesis, which explored the importance of the bail decision in the criminal
justice system, specifically in relation to police bail decision-making in Victoria. This study is imperative to discussions on
bail decision-making as, not only is there a significant dearth of research on the police bail decision-making process in
general, but there have been to date no studies conducted specifically in Victoria. Evidence suggests that in reality the
majority of bail decisions are made in private, with a court hearing essentially representing a public agreement to the police
decision. Without accountability and understanding, the police bail decision-making process may lead to infringements on
individual liberties or endangering public safety. Additionally, prior research identifies the use of bail support services as a
means to reduce the necessity of remanding some people. Two key findings were identified from the analysis of data. Firstly,
it was established that while some police officers have knowledge of bail support services, information and training on bail
support services is not disseminated consistently throughout Victoria Police. Secondly, it was found that bail decisions are
made with an assumption of guilt on the behalf of the decision-maker and not with a presumption of innocence as deemed
by Victoria’s legal system. (Authors abstract).


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