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Call for Evidence

The role of adult custodial remand in the criminal justice system


From March 2020 to September 2020 the remand population, according to the Chief Inspectors’ report on the impact of covid-19 on the criminal justice system, increased by 22% and reached its highest annual figure in six years, representing 15.5% of the prison population. Delays in the Crown Court caused by the backlog will have an effect on the length of time defendants spend remanded to custody. In March 2021, it was reported that nearly a third of England’s remand population have been held beyond the legal time limited awaiting trials. Some have suggested that some prisoners have been pleading guilty to avoid lengthy pre-trial detention. Excessive pre-trial detention can lead to overcrowding and declining conditions in prison. This inquiry seeks to understand why the number of people on remand has increased since Covid, whether remand to custody is fit for purpose and being appropriate applied, as well as looking at what effect custodial remand has on the prison population.

The most recent MoJ and HMPPS quarterly statistics note that: “Following a decreasing trend since 2014, the remand population has dramatically increased since June 2019. As at 31 December 2021, the remand population was 12,780. This is a small reduction of 210 prisoners on the previous quarter (September 2021), but it is still the second highest quarterly figure since September 2011 and the highest December figure since 2008. This was driven by a 16% increase in the convicted unsentenced population as compared with 31 December 2020 whilst the untried population increased by 1% over the same period. The current COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected normal court operations. Information recently released by the Ministry of Justice suggests that the time between offence and completion at the Crown Court increased by 11% between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021 from a median of 406 days to 449 days. However, the same metric fell by 5% at magistrates’ courts for the same period.” The Statistics show that:

  • People are spending 11% longer on remand because of covid, with a median of 449 days from offence to completion of case in Crown Courts.
  • One in ten people held in pre-trial detention in 2019 was found innocent at trial and a quarter were not sent to prison following their trial.
  • The amount of people on remand since covid has risen by 32%.

Nacro, the Social Justice Charity, also note that last year saw a 68% rise in self-inflicted deaths among remand prisoners, despite only a 6% rise in the remand population.

Terms of reference

  • To what extent the legislative framework for determining whether to remand an individual to custody is (a) fit for purpose, and (b) being appropriately applied?
  • Why has the number of people on remand increased since Covid, and what work is being done to address this?
  • Why has there been a disproportionate increase in the population of the convicted unsentenced on remand, compared to the untried population?
  • How long are people being held on remand? What are the implications of people being held for long periods on remand?
  • What data on remand should be collected and published that isn’t already?
  • What effect does the increasing remand population have on the prison population?
  • What support is available for remand prisoners?
  • Whether there are differences in the use of remand in custody between men and women?
  • What alternatives are there to the use of custodial remand (such as more effective tagging)?
  • Some people who are held in custody on remand, will at trial be found not guilty and immediately released. What support is available for this category of people, upon their release from prison?

Please send submissions of no more than 3,000 words through the online portal by Friday 22 April 2022.

Important information about making a submission

The Committee cannot publish submissions which refer to ongoing legal cases. Please contact us if you are not sure what this means for you.

Written evidence must address the terms of reference as set out above, but please note that submissions do not have to address every point. Guidance on giving evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons is available here.

In line with the general practice of select committees, the Justice Committee is not able to take up individual cases. If you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament.

The Committee will decide whether to accept each submission. If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online. It will then be available permanently for anyone to view. It can’t be changed or removed. If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will normally be published too. Please consider how much personal information you want or need to share. If you include personal information about other people in your submission, the Committee may decide not to publish it. Your contact details will never be published.

Decisions about publishing evidence anonymously, or about accepting but not publishing evidence, are made by the Committee. If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission anonymously (meaning it will be published but without your name), or confidentially (meaning it won't be published at all), you can make this request when you upload your submission.

The Committee has discretion over which submissions it accepts as evidence, and which of those it then publishes on its website. We may anonymise or redact some of your submission if it is published. The Committee may decide to accept evidence on a confidential basis. Confidential submissions remain available to the Committee but are not published or referred to in public. All written evidence will be considered by the Committee, whether or not it is published.

If your evidence raises any safeguarding concerns about you, or other people, then the Committee has a duty to raise these with the appropriate safeguarding authority.

Please send submissions of no more than 3,000 words through the online portal by Friday 22 April 2022.


This call for written evidence has now closed.

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