Police chief calls for marshals to track down bail bandits

A brilliant idea! Also i could think of thousands of potential employees who have recently left another government dept :wink:

A chief constable urged the Government yesterday to create an American-style marshals service to track down "bail bandits", protect witnesses and impose the authority of the courts.

Colin Port, the chief constable of Avon and Somerset, suggested that existing government proposals for a new agency, to enforce fines and bring absconders to court, did not go far enough. They should be expanded to tackle the problem of protecting those willing to give evidence.

Mr Port, one of the few chief constables with extensive detective experience, said the current system in which 43 forces tried to protect witnesses meant "the wheel being re-invented 43 times".

He was speaking at the launch of Relentless, an operation involving raids on scores of homes in his force area in search of people who had failed to answer bail or were wanted on outstanding court warrants. More than 150 people were arrested.

Mr Port said he was concerned that 1,600 people in his force area alone had failed to attend court or failed to return to police stations having been bailed. "With that number of people wanted at any one time, something is not working," he said.

He welcomed proposals, made in March by the Department of Constitutional Affairs and the Home Office, for a 4,000-staff National Enforcement Service (NES) to tackle fine dodgers, bail bandits and others who ignored court orders, but called for it to be expanded.

"If you look at the United States model it is a model that seems to work," he said. "I have first hand experience of how frustrated magistrates get when offenders do not show up to court time after time and the police simply do not have the resources to round up each and every one of them."

Bail offenders often turned to crime for their livelihood, he added, because they knew that they were wanted by the police and were therefore unable to sign on for benefits.

"We are trying to bring these people in, break the cycle, and deal with their offences so that they can go about in a legitimate way, as opposed to a criminal way of earning a living."

The NES is due to start national operations, with staff given police- and courts-based intelligence and new powers to arrest and enter premises. A pilot scheme is due next year.

Mr Port said consideration should be given to a broader agency combining, like the US marshals service, the enforcement of court orders and the protection of witnesses from intimidation.

The United States Marshals Service, immortalised by films such as The Fugitive, arrests 55 per cent of federal fugitives a year. It employs about 4,000 people. Its role includes the pursuit of fugitives, the protection of witnesses and the transport of prisoners.

Mr Port is a former head of the South East Regional Crime Squad and became the Avon and Somerset chief constable in January this year.
Vegetius said:
Mr Port, one of the few chief constables with extensive detective experience.
Yes, you don't see many of them. And this is a very sensible suggestion.

Thats what made me sit up and read it...
Christ a high ranking officer with common sense, amazing!! Get him signed up!!!

Bet he could read a map too!!


War Hero
This is pretty high profile down here in the cider county, they've started naming and shaming bail jumpers on the front page of Bristol's biggest newspaper, with hilarious unflattering mug shots :)
A great idea and i wouldn't even mind my taxes going to pay for the initial outlay to set it up.

Can't believe there is a senior police officer with common sense, that must have taken some searching.

I wonder if he can talk some sense into all the others??? especially the CC of North Wales.
About time too!
How did this chap get the job? I though you had to be a clueless manager with extensive experience of "diversity awareness" and no actual experience of policework to be a chief constable.
Hmm.....I seem to be the only person in here with reservations......

A friend of mine does this in Colerado - he spent a small fortune equipping himself with body armour, cuffs and suitable handguns. I wonder if bail marshalls in this country would be allowed such defensive items or if they'll be expected to rely on natural charm?
^ I think your man is a bail bondsman (Bounty Hunter), not a US Federal Marshal.

In the US many people make bail by taking out loans with bail companies. For example, say you get arrested in possession of a half-kilo of cannabis. You can arrange a loan for your $20,000 bail to get free quick, then pay it back later.

Now, if you default on that bail (by not appearing at court) the bail bonds company is perfectly entitled under US law to set loose any number of bounty hunters on you. The hunter gets a percentage of the bail fee in return for capturing the defaulter. Furthermore, he has powers of entry and arrest (as a private contractor) and may carry firearms and so on.

By comparison, US Marshals are responsible for federal refugees from law, prisoner escort and criminal justice protection issues. That is to say they deal serious offenders already in the system.

It is in this context that we should be wary of US/ UK comparisons. On a local level these guys in the UK would be very similar to private detectives/ enquiry agents serving summonses, but with beefed-up powers. Further up the food chain they would deal with protracted enquiries on fugitives and perhaps complicated criminal justice protection issues.

As I said, a sound idea by this Chief Constable but let's not get too carried away by the Tommy Lee Jones comparisons.

Me, me I want the job, do you have to bring the bail jumping b*stards in alive ?

Do they issue you with a pick axe handle ?
Bail in the US is a little different than depicted in an earlier post. A $20,000 bail would require 10% paid to the bondsman. Usually they will also require collateral. When the case has been concluded the collateral is released. The 10% is the bondsman's fee which he spilts with the surety company. If a bailee skips then the bondsman has a period of time [differs by state] to produce the skip. In this case the collateral is usually forfeited but its at the bondsman's choice. The beauty of this system is that it costs the government nothing.
And creating employment opportunities for ex-soldiers to boot! I am all for it - just hope that they don't abate your Bounty Hunter Pay as they know you are getting an Army pension!
I could do that of an evening on the way home, and then follow up with a pint, what a great idea!! Beats BG work

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