A Home Office review of pre-charge bail legislation which the Police Federation of England and Wales previously warned could hamper investigations has been tagged: “Much needed and long overdue” by National Chair John Apter.
The announcement of the review - made in a written Ministerial Statement yesterday (5 November) - followed the Federation’s severe and sustained criticism of Government reforms made in 2017 which limited the length of pre-charge bail for most cases to 28 days.
The Home Office says the review will consider updating rules to better support police officers investigating crimes and ensure pre-charge bail is being used where appropriate – including when conditions are required to protect victims and witnesses.
It will also look at the design of simplified and flexible rules to support effective operational decisions and ensure pre-charge bail supports a timely progression of the cases to court.
Mr Apter said: “This decision is much needed and long overdue, and I am delighted the views of our members have been listen to and this flawed legislation which can increase risk - particularly to domestic abuse victims - is to be reviewed.
“Our stance has always been that a 28-day bail limit was unrealistic especially when dealing with complex and often protracted investigations, and the legislation as it stands allows potentially dangerous suspects to be released or even evade justice altogether.”
Mr Apter continued: “Police officers cannot be hampered with legislation that actually prevents them conducting a thorough and detailed investigation and must be able to protect potentially vulnerable victims using sensible and reasonable bail conditions.
“I would therefore urge the new Government to continue with this review to make sure police officers are given the opportunity to fully investigate crimes while ensuring members of public get the protection they need and deserve,” he concluded.