Government announces plans to review pre-charge bail law
The Home Office will consider updating the rules to ensure the safety of victims is prioritised and police are supported in investigating all offences.
The government intends to review pre-charge bail legislation to ensure the safety of victims is prioritised and police are supported in investigating all offences.
Pre-charge bail allows police to release a suspect from custody, usually subject to conditions, while officers continue their investigation or await a charging decision.
Reforms made in 2017 limited the length of pre-charge bail to an initial 28 days and required that the extension of bail conditions for up to three months should be authorised by a senior officer. This was intended to prevent suspects being left for lengthy periods under restrictive bail conditions without being charged. The review will scrutinise the system to see how it can be improved.
The Home Office will consider updating the rules to better support police officers investigating crimes and ensure that pre-charge bail is being used where most appropriate - including where conditions are needed to protect victims and witnesses, such as in domestic abuse cases.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
I’m committed to giving the police the support they need to protect the public from harm – as well as supporting victims and witnesses.
This review will ensure we put the needs of victims first and help the police investigate complex crimes whilst also continuing to make sure cases are able to be dealt with swiftly.
In detail, the review would look to:
- ensure the proper use of bail to protect victims and witnesses
- support the police in the timely management of investigations, whether a suspect is released on bail or without bail (known as ‘released under investigation’)
- respect the rights of suspects, victims and witnesses to timely decisions and updates
- ensure pre-charge bail supports the timely progression of cases to courts
- design simplified and flexible rules to support effective operational decisions
Yesterday’s announcement follows guidance issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council to frontline officers earlier this year stressing the importance of using pre-charge bail, including in high harm cases.
Police can apply and extend pre-charge bail as investigations continue should they believe conditions are still necessary.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate are conducting an inspection of how police forces manage changes to bail and are expected to publish their findings next year.
Latest News from
Home Secretary backs county lines crackdown17/01/2020 16:20:00
Today the Home Secretary joined Merseyside Police on a county lines raid funded by a new £25 million package of measures.
Armed policing code strengthened in response to Grainger Inquiry15/01/2020 11:10:00
New code will bring greater clarity to the process of approving police use of less lethal weapons.
Police leaders to start bidding for more tasers from today13/01/2020 16:05:00
Bidding opens today to equip more police officers with tasers in England and Wales.
Home Office overhauls police complaints and discipline process13/01/2020 11:10:00
The changes ensure that complaints can be dealt with quickly, effectively and proportionately.
New AI technique to block online child grooming launched10/01/2020 11:10:00
Project Artemis developed following Hackathon co-hosted by Microsoft and the Home Office.
Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill08/01/2020 15:15:15
The technical bill will ensure the Windrush Compensation Scheme is underpinned by the necessary Parliamentary financial authority.
The New Year Honours list 202030/12/2019 09:28:00
The New Year Honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.
Additional £35 million for Violence Reduction Units30/12/2019 09:15:00
Police and crime commissioners will receive an additional £35 million to continue funding specialist teams to tackle violent crime in their area.