NSW Bail reform

New BOCSAR report shows massive increase in juveniles on remand/in custody in NSW due to police refusal of bail (30.1.2015)


2014 - and the Bail Act is being reformed, again .. After another review in 2013 - the changes were announced by Mike Baird and have prompted an immediate response from lawyers and civil libertarians.

NSW Government’s proposed changes to the Bail Act potentially threaten fundamental rights - Pauline Wright (Council of Civil Liberties), Nicholas Cowdery (Daily Telegraph 5.8.2014).

Media Release from NSW Bar Association on the Bail Act

The legal fraternity rounds in on NSW's dramatic tightening of bail laws. More on The World Today, now streaming: http://abc.net.au/worldtoday

Discussion from a forum convened by MP David Shoebridge (4.8.2014)



Headed by Retired Judges Wood and Sperling, the report recommends (amongst many recommendations) that the presumption for bail should apply to all but the most serious offences, and that S22a be changed and removed altogether for juveniles.

Update: NSW Government announces amendments to NSW Bail Act  to a largely underwhelmed response. Going against the recommendations of the review, the Government has removed all presumption for or against bail  and has also failed to remove or significantly amend S22a. S22a will be amended for juveniles only, allowing more than one application for bail to be made.

  • NSW Attorney-General, Greg Smith, publically backs the Law Reform Commission's proposal (Sydney Morning Herald, 27.6.12)
  • Richard Ackland @justinian in the Sydney Morning Herald (15.6.2012) discusses the "The cacophony of populist fear-mongering" being played out in the Daily Telegraph and on radio with commentator Ray Hadley and provides a factual overview of the recommendations.
  • Anna Patty reports in the Sydney Morning Herald (14.6.2012)
  • Nicola Berkovic reports in The Australian (14.6.2012): "Mr Smith, who has been pilloried by sections of the media for allegedly going soft on crime, yesterday said the O'Farrell government would examine the 363-page report and respond to it by the end of the year. He said the government favoured a risk-management approach that took account of factors such as a person committing another offence, endangering the public or interfering with witnesses."
  • ABC online provides another summary of the report here (14.6.2012), and quotes Greens MP David Shoebridge, a barrister:

    "It's not watering down the act. It's getting it back to those essential principles, that until you've been found guilty by a court you are entitled to liberty unless you're a risk to the community or you're a flight risk," ...

    "Because once you've been charged that doesn't mean you've been found guilty. That's what the bail laws are meant to produce, but increasingly anyone who's been charged has been put away often for six to nine months... "Many of them have been found not guilty and that's a gross injustice.

  • And meanwhile the Daily Telegraph continues its ill-informed and populist attack on the Attorney General and proposed reforms with Andrew Clennell's article "Special bail planned for Minorities" (14.6.2012).
  • In The Drum online, a thoughtful piece, predating and anticipating the Law Reform Commission report from Daniel Feher on Juveniles on remand draws on the recently released Doing Time - Time For Doing report on Indigenous children in custody.

Social Justice Organisations respond to the Review positively but criticise the Govt's decision to delay acting on the recommendations and call for greater emphasis on youth and bail issues:

  • YAPA (Youth Action & Policy Association NSW) responded to the Attorney General's statement and the report in this press release.
  • Karen Bevan of Uniting Care Children released this statement on 13.6.2012