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Enhanced in court services

Part 1, section 5 of the Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Act 2023 will come into force on 1 July 2024.

The new provisions require the court, when passing a sentence of imprisonment or detention to have regard to time spent on electronically monitored bail (“EM bail”). The court has a discretion to determine whether, and to what extent, the time spent on EM bail is to be treated as “time served” for the purposes of a custodial sentence, similar to the provisions allowing time on remand to be taken into account for backdating of a custodial sentence.

The legislation envisages that the defence should be in a position to address the court in relation to the length of time an accused has been subject to any such conditions, whether the conditions have been breached and the court will require to be satisfied that the accused was subject to a curfew condition for at least 9 hours a day. COPFS may also be in a position to provide that information to the court if required.

To support decision making in relation to bail supervision and EM bail, the criminal justice social work team have agreed to provide a bail officer who will be present in the custody court to provide immediate assistance to the bench.

In addition, the criminal justice social work department have also agreed to provide an in court service in the remand court. This is to encourage any queries to be answered immediately by the criminal justice social work team rather than have business in the remand court continued for further appearances. If upon consideration of a CJSWR, a sheriff wishes a ROLO assessment, seeks further information, wishes to explore a referral to a problem solving court or wishes a progress review, the in court service will seek to provide that to the court during the course of the remand court, allowing the case to recall later that day.

Both these services have the potential to create efficiencies in the custody court and the remand court which will ultimately be of benefit to the accused and to practitioners. Practitioners are encouraged to use these facilities as much as possible where appropriate. Like all services, if the services are under-utilised, they will be withdrawn.

The Sheriff Principal has issued two guidance notes in relation to this -

Bail Supervision EM Bail - In Court Service
Download DOCX • 32KB

Remand Court - In Court Social Worker
Download DOCX • 32KB



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