Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Bail or No Bail. The statistics of custody hearings.

By Karen Thomson, @KThomson1992  

Open justice aims to provide a broad day-to-day view from all the courts in the UK . Courtroom four in Glasgow sheriff court is where custody hearings are held.
The offender stands behind a glass box as solicitors and members of the public flutter in and out it. At times the cases are hard to follow – over the noise and bad acoustics – which gives this courtroom an added challenge for any journalist.
It has the feeling of a small theatre. It has seats for about 50 people and the scene is forever changing.
Statistics from just an hour in a custody hearing court show the diverse nature of the people that come through its doors. People that have been arrested at the weekend, those who have skipped their trial dates and others who have broke to the terms of their bail all appear in this one court.
From the ages 18-38 more than half had previous convictions. Of the eight cases heard only two were refused bail.
As each offender makes their way to the stand they are greeted by Sheriff Reid, who either invites them to sit down while they look through the charge sheet or begins his questioning.
A heavily pregnant woman then takes to the stand. She has been on bail for a domestic matter. She is back in court after breaking these conditions. Her health is of immediate concern and is of the upmost importance to her solicitor. When asked by Sheriff Reid if she anything to add she says:
“I have two cats at home and my wee boy is in foster care”
Weighing up her situation Sheriff Reid grants bail under a special conditions that she must approach or contact her ex-partner. Making her way through the door she turns and gives a small smile before disappearing.

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