Pre-charge bail and release under investigation (RUI): an urgent case for reform

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Abstract

Pre-charge bail has existed for decades but the current legal powers are enshrined in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984. It is a mechanism for the police to release suspects under an obligation to return to police stations and, where necessary, comply with conditions whilst investigations are concluded. After several high profile cases and concerns about both the number of suspects on bail and the length of time spent on bail, the law was changed in 2017. The Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced a presumption against bail; enshrined a duty to use bail only when it is both necessary and proportionate; and, introduced a review procedure which involves judicial oversight. Since the Act came into force the use of bail has declined steeply and a new pseudo legal category of ‘release under investigation’ (RUI), which is entirely unregulated, is utilised extensively. As a result, the Government has signalled its intention to change the law to promote the use of bail, where appropriate, and regulate RUI. This is simply tinkering with the system which is unlikely to result in the wished for outcomes. Instead wholesale reform of the legal framework is required.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalCriminal Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2020