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Police Powers: Pre-charge Bail

Volume 671: debated on Wednesday 5 February 2020

This Government are committed to ensuring the police have the powers they need to protect the public, and that our criminal justice system has at its heart the welfare and best interests of victims.

That is why on 5 November we launched a review of pre-charge bail to ensure we have a system which prioritises safeguarding and supports effective investigations, while also respecting the rights of suspects.

We have listened to people’s concerns, including important issues raised by those who provide frontline support to victims of crime and survivors, the police and parliamentarians.

Today I am therefore pleased to announce the launch of our consultation on proposed changes to pre-charge bail. Specifically, the consultation seeks views on the following proposals:

Removing the presumption against pre-charge bail;

Placing a duty on officers to use pre-charge bail where necessary and proportionate, which would apply in cases where there were safeguarding risks to victims, witnesses and the public; where necessary to prevent further offending; or where the offence in question has significant real or intended impacts;

Lowering the rank of officer needed to authorise and extend pre-charge bail, while also extending the initial period pre-charge bail can be applied from 28 to either 60 or 90 days and delaying the point at which magistrates’ approval for the extension of bail is required from 3 months to 6, 9 or 12 months; and

Introducing review points in codes of practice for investigations where pre-charge bail is not used, including where individuals are interviewed voluntarily or released under investigation. Importantly, this consultation will also look to gather views from victims of crime and those individuals who have been released under investigation about how the current system can be improved, as well seeking views on the current effectiveness of bail conditions

This is a Government that both listens and acts, and I look forward to hearing views on this important issue.

The consultation will be available at: government/consultations/police-powers-pre-charge-bail

A copy of the consultation will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.