News and Events

Police Bail Changes in 2017

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Significant changes to the law around police bail came into force across England & Wales on Monday 3rd April 2017 and nowhere more important have these changes affected the investigation of crime than in large scale conspiracies.

This has resulted in the staff at Conspiracy Solicitor altering working practices to accommodate these radical changes.

Prior to the new legislation which was given Royal Assent in January defendants could find themselves arrested by the police, interviewed and then released on police bail (affectionately known as White Paper bail) pending further enquiries, with or without stringent bail conditions restricting their movement or activities.

This police bail could last for weeks, months and even years in some cases.

Historically police used pre charge bail when they had questioned a suspect, but needed time to continue their investigations before determining whether to charge them.

A suspect was released from custody, sometimes with conditions attached and told to return back to a police station at a later date.

Whatever the crime, under the new legislation, the police are required to release suspects under investigation without using bail in the majority of cases.

We at ConspiracySolicitor have found that there are different practices adopted nationally by the different police forces.

The biggest change under the new law is there is now a presumption of release without bail in almost all cases, including those where a suspect has been arrested for breach of bail, unless it meets strict criteria around necessity and proportionality.

There are now three main bail periods that the police can authorise. These are;-

  1. Initial bail for 28 days authorised by an Inspector
  2. An extension to the initial bail period, to three calendar months from the bail starts date, authorised by a superintendant.
  3. A further three calendar months extension, authorised by an assistant chief constable or commander for exceptionally complex cases.

All other extensions to the bail period beyond this point have to be authorised by a Magistrates Court.

Conspiracysolicitor therefore believe that a suspect arrested at the police station should seek the services of a solicitor as soon as they are arrested to negotiate bail v Remand under investigation as soon as possible.

In House Counsel Christopher Milligan says, “The new legislation is a significant change for policing and for our lawyers. It has sought to strike a balance between the need for police to manage investigations and not leave a person suspected of crime on bail for an unacceptable long period of time. The Government has sought to bring to an end the injustice of people being left to languish on very lengthy periods of pre-charge bail, by introducing a limit of 28 days”.

At the time of the introduction of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “Pre-charge bail is a useful and necessary tool but in many cases it is being imposed on people for many months, or even years, without any judicial oversight – and that cannot be right.

The move follows criticism of people being kept on police bail for months or years without charge in investigations such as Operation Yewtree – into historical sexual abuse – and others.

Lawyers at Conspiracysolicitor will continue to monitor the impact of these changes which still remain in their relative infancy as the larger operations and investigations come through the judicial system.

The following news article came about following a referral to Westminster by Conspiracysolicitor;-