Pre-Charge Bail Consultation

Pre-Charge Bail Consultation

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Introduction

Following on from the College of Policing consultation on bail last year, the Home Office are currently consulting on the use of Police Bail (now known as pre-charge bail – makes sense, but not sure it was necessary to change the name).

The consultation document is here and is fairly short. Although there has been a lot of concern in some quarters about police misuse of bail, I am slightly surprised that the Tories have picked this up (not very ‘law and order’ really?) but it’s welcome. Given that most of the significant changes that could come out of it require legislation and there is an election coming soon, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

 

Summary of Proposals

Taken from the executive summary :

The measures being consulted upon include:

  • Enabling the police to release someone pending further investigation without bail in circumstances where bail is not considered to be necessary;
  • Setting a clear expectation that pre-charge bail should not last longer than a specified finite period of 28 days, as recommended by the College of Policing;
  • Setting the extenuating circumstances in which that period might be extended further, and who should make that decision;
  • Establishing a framework for the review by the courts of pre-charge bail;
  • Considering whether extension of pre-charge bail should only be available in certain types of case, such as fraud or tax evasion, or in all cases where there are exceptional reasons for an extended investigation;
  • Considering how best to enable the police to obtain timely evidence from other public authorities; and
  • Considering whether individuals subject to pre-charge bail should be able to challenge the duration as well as the conditions in the courts.

The important point in it is whether there should be any time limits on bail, if and how these can be extended, which Court has jurisdiction to decide this and what test they apply and what do you do when someone is arrested but a protracted investigation is needed.

 

How to respond

I have done a form that can be downloaded here. This can be emailed to pacereview@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

We will probably draft our own response and post it here to share. We’d be happy to host anyone else’s draft.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Campaigners accept that pre-charge bail is still an important legal tool for police and are not proposing a total scrapping of the measure. However they believe it should have a time limit of 28 days, after which the measure must be reviewed by a judge and not by police.

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