03 August 2020
Not reviewed after the date of publication
A person is charged with an offence, bailed to court and released from custody. The court subsequently realises they have overbooked the available court slots for that date and refer back to the police to change the bail date/time/location for the defendant.
Is this lawful?
The magistrates court may appoint a later time to appear as outlined in Section 43 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980:
'43(1) Where a person has been granted bail under Part IV (sections 34 to 53) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 subject to a duty to appear before a magistrates' court, the court before which he is to appear may appoint a later time as the time at which he is to appear and may enlarge the recognizances of any sureties for him at that time.'
Furthermore, the Justices' clerks have the power to do this under paragraph 11 of the Schedule to the Justices Clerks Rules 2005:
Section 47 of PACE makes provision for a custody officer to grant bail following arrest and subsection 47(3A) specifically allows a custody officer to grant bail to a person subject to that person's duty to appear before a magistrates' court. The magistrates set the appearance date and therefore the custody bail date is set to match this date, as per section 47(3A), which states:
'(3A) Where a custody officer grants bail to a person subject to a duty to appear before a magistrates' court, he shall appoint for the appearance -
(a) a date which is not later than the first sitting of the court after the person is charged with the offence; or
(b) where he is informed by the designated officer for the relevant local justice area that the appearance cannot be accommodated until a later date, that later date.'
In our view, this section allows the custody officer to change the date and time of the court appearance date to which the suspect is bailed, by request from the court. The request may be received after the suspect has already been notified of the original appearance date, in which case the custody officer would need to reissue paperwork to the suspect, reflecting the amended time and date of the first court hearing to the suspect.