Justice Committee inquiry into the role of adult custodial remand in the criminal justice system

In March 2022, the House of Commons Justice Select Committee launched an inquiry into the role of adult custodial remand in the criminal justice system. The inquiry seeks to understand why the use of custodial remand has grown in recent years, the impact being placed on remand has on those in prison, and the quality of support they receive.  

JUSTICE has responded to the Justice Committee’s call for evidence, drawing on several of our working Parties including: A Parole System Fit for Purpose (2022); Tackling Racial Injustice: Children and the Youth Justice System (2021); and Mental Health and Fair Trial (2017). We have also drawn on our ongoing observational research monitoring remand hearings in the magistrates’ courts.  

Our submission highlights the following concerns with the current remand system:  

  • The legislative framework for determining whether to remand an individual in custody is not being appropriately applied. Our research suggests that in a majority of cases the Bail Act 1976 is not being referred to correctly.  
  • Ethnic minority communities are disproportionately represented in the increasing remand population. This reflects an increased emphasis on racialised policies purported to tackle serious crime, such as PREVENT, the Gangs Violence Matrix, and the expansion of ‘section 60’ Stop and Search powers.  
  • The length of time defendants are spending on remand is of significant concern. The remand population is already particularly vulnerable to suicide and mental health issues, spending long periods of time could amplify these vulnerabilities.  
  • The increasing remand population exacerbates prison overcrowding. This has significant deleterious consequences for the general prison population, as it contributes to a lack of educational and training provisions and reduced health and mental health care.  
  • Too many people are being remanded in custody who then go on to be acquitted or receive non-custodial sentences. We have found that factor such as homelessness, drug abuse and mental health are frequently drawn upon to justify remanding an individual in custody. Greater efforts should be made to provide these individuals with community-based interventions, particularly in cases where a non-custodial sentence is likely.  

You can read our submissions here.