School of Law

Research Student: Diana Grech

Innocent Until Proven Guilty: A Comparison of Bail Court Culture in England and Wales and Canada

My research examines potential explanations for the recent rise in many common law jurisdictions’ remand populations. This portion of the prison population is constituted by defendants who are detained in custody awaiting the conclusion of their criminal proceedings. With some limited exceptions, these individuals are considered legally innocent.

Although the number of defendants detained in custody has increased in many jurisdictions in the last decade, England and Wales’ remand population has remained relatively stable. In contrast, the remand population in Canada has increased drastically and currently comprises a significant proportion of the total prison population. It is currently unclear why such a disparity exits between these jurisdictions as there is a paucity of research that identifies those factors which lead to either the increase or stability of remand populations in common law jurisdictions.

The objective of my thesis is to identify these contributing factors. This will be achieved by examining differences in bail court culture in England and Wales and Canada. Decisions made at this stage of the court process have a significant impact on the two main drivers of the remand population: the number of accused persons entering custodial remand and the length of time spent in custody. Given the similarities in the law related to bail in each jurisdiction, it is projected that an examination of differences in court culture (i.e. informal practices, norms and expectations shared by court practitioners) will reveal potential explanations for the disjuncture in the remand population trends in England and Wales and Canada.

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