Defendants eligible for remand on electronically
monitored (EM) bail face being held in prison because the
system is overloaded.
The 280 people on EM bail in New Zealand exceeded by 30 the
capacity of 250, police prosecutor Tim Hambleton said in the
Oamaru District Court yesterday.
He raised the issue in court because, he said, police were
unable to consider any new applications for EM bail.
The system was beyond capacity and there was a lack of
funding, he said.
New Zealand Police received specific funding to implement and
administer the system, established in 2006.
EM bail allowed suitable defendants to live at approved
addresses while wearing electronic anklets. By reducing
numbers remanded in custody (a more expensive option), EM
bail saved the Government money. At present, prisons were not
full and could take those declined EM bail.
The halt in applications was frustrating some lawyers and
their clients, many of whom were only made aware of the
problem this week.
Southern district prosecution manager Senior Sergeant Amelia
Steel, of Dunedin, on Monday outlined the situation in an
email to New Zealand Law Society Otago branch manager Karl
Snr Sgt Steel asked Mr Hewitt to pass the information on to
Her email said police had reached capacity with EM bail and
were not resourced ''beyond the current muster''. Therefore,
police were not in a position to progress new applications.
Courts would be advised when police could return to
''business as usual''.
Until then, applications for EM bail still had to be received
by court staff and forwarded to police, although they would
be returned under a covering letter by the district
Police Assistant Commissioner (operations) Nick Perry said
police considered it ''prudent'' to cap numbers on EM bail to
ensure the scheme continued to be managed effectively.
That was due in part to the system's ''success'', which had
allowed the number on EM bail reach 280, he said.
''However, given the increasing success of the scheme, the
finite nature of police resources, and pending formalisation
of EM bail processes by Parliament, it was considered
appropriate that those involved revisit the scheme to look at
how its delivery might be both maintained and improved,'' Mr
A group was considering options and members had agreed more
work was needed before decisions were made.
The public could be reassured police would continue to
advocate appropriate bail conditions to minimise the risk to
public safety, he said.
Police provided a prosecution position on a defendant's
suitability for EM bail, but decisions to grant EM bail were
made by the judiciary.