Bail conditions and Critical Mass on 10th August

Tagged as: olympics social_struggles

A cyclist was killed yesterday 1st of August as he negotiated the roads next to the Olymics complex, by a bus hired by LOGOC to shuttle Olympics press around. 

There has been a call for a vigil and a mass ride to get to the site of the crash starting on 10th August at 6.30 under Waterloo Bridge.

Those who were arrested and bailed in the last Critical Mass may want to continue reading or seek independent advice.

Should you ignore police bail conditions? (pre-charge)
Many people arrested on the student protests have had conditions imposed by the police when given bail, usually “not to attend protests” or to “stay out of Westminster”. There are legal methods of challenging these conditions on the grounds that they breach the European Convention on Human Rights in particular Article 10 “Freedom of Expression” and Article 11 “Freedom of Assembly”. However, these can be expensive and time consuming. So we say- just ignore them. Here’s why.

Why the cops put everybody on bail.
In the good old days if the police nicked you they would charge you with the most serious offence they could think of and either take you to court in the morning or let you out with a court date a few days or at most a couple of weeks later. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) got fed up of this as they were always having to reduce the charges to something more realistic. So now, the cops aren’t allowed to charge anything except really minor stuff e.g. drunk and disorderly. Instead, they prepare a file of evidence that is sent to the CPS who then decide what the appropriate charge is. Aside from laziness, incompetence and inefficiency both cops and CPS have positive reasons to slow the process down. The cops like keeping people on bail because it’s a punishment in itself, especially if there are conditions attached, while the  CPS get paid however long it takes. This leads to people being on bail for months and even years with disruption to their lives and ongoing psychological pressures. We need to resist this individually and collectively. 

Breaching Bail Conditions is not a criminal offence!
What many people don’t know is that breaking bail conditions is not the same as failing to surrender to bail (turning up on the date given on your bail sheet whether to a court or to return to a police station). Failure to surrender is a crime (Section 6 Bail Act 1976). Although it should be said, the courts take failure to surrender to the cops far less seriously than skipping court and CPS guidelines state that failure to answer police bail should not be prosecuted at all where the substantive case is dropped.

Breaking conditions imposed when you are give bail is not a crime. If you break bail conditions you can be arrested (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 section 46A (1A)).  BUT and here’s the good bit, they can only release you on bail again with the same conditions or charge you, and then either bail you or take you to Court the next day. Now some people may be afraid that the Court will remand them. BUT the Courts can only remand people who’ve been charged with an offence. And that is what the cops don’t want to do because if you’re charged you have to be told what you’re suspected of doing and what the evidence is against you. This will help your defence by enabling you to gather information and witnesses to the incident and demand disclosure of the police’s own misconduct. We suspect that the cops are not planning to arrest anyone for breaching bail just hoping to put people off demonstrating. In any case it’s almost unheard of for people to be remanded just for breaking police bail conditions. 

Time to fight back.
Being on bail also results in people feeling they cannot comment or campaign about the case. Defence lawyers are by training cautious about their clients saying anything that could harm their defence, and given the daft things some folk say you can see why. However a robust defence campaign that firmly puts the blame on the police (as with the Trafalgar Square Defence Campaign for the Poll Tax demonstration in 1990) is a vital part of everyone’s individual cases and defying police attempts to prevent future demonstrations by bail conditions is an important step towards this. Moreover, keeping up the pressure with more demonstrations and broadening them to link with other struggles will increase the political and logistical pressure against this police victimisation of protesters.