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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Reform of pre-charge bail is welcomed

15 January 2021

Officers will be able to release suspects on pre-charge bail for 90 days rather than the current 28 days under the latest reform of arrangements.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May, while previously Home Secretary, introduced a 28-day cap on pre-charge bail as part of the Policing and Crime Act in 2017.

But the Home Office has now published its response to a consultation on pre-charge bail which officers from the Federation’s National Custody Forum also contributed to.

“We welcome the plans for reform,” says Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Geoff Bardell, “These changes will prevent suspects being released under investigation for long periods and will also reduce the red tape officers currently face.”

National Federation chair John Apter has also welcomed the reform.

“These changes to the bail system are much needed and long-overdue. However, we should not have had to campaign to reform the bail system because the disastrous changes to pre-charge bail conditions should never have happened in the first place,” he explained.

“Despite multiple warnings from the Police Federation and others within policing, these changes were arrogantly pursued by a previous Government. Those responsible for driving through those changes with the predictable damage that was caused have failed victims and justice."

The Federation accurately predicted that the 2017 changes would see pre-charge bail drop dramatically with the release of suspects under investigation becoming the norm.

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws showed the number of suspected offenders - including domestic abusers and violent and sexual offenders - released while still under investigation rose from 6,464 in 2016 to 97,473 in 2019.

The full package of reforms will be named ‘Kay’s Law’ in memory of Kay Richardson, who was murdered by her ex-partner released while he was under previous investigation for domestic abuse.

 

 

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