From Police “Bail” to “Released Under Investigation”
01 December 2018
Article by: Robert Borwick
Since the 3rd of April 2017 there has been a substantial shift in the law surrounding investigations. After being arrested a suspect would face one of three scenarios; charged with an offence, no further action or, most frequently, bailed to return to the police station on another date. A bail to return was the easier option for the Police. Rather than plump for a definitive resolution where the case would go to court (charge) or be discarded (no further action), a bail to return was the equivalent of an officer saying, “I need a little more time.”
The problem was it was not always a little time. People remained on bail for months and even years at a time. This was particularly difficult in cases where suspects were subject to onerous bail conditions which might impact their ability to see their families or carry out their work.
Finally, Parliament recognised the inherent unfairness of a situation where a person could effectively remain perpetually on bail so long as a custody sergeant approved the re-bail. It said that in order for a person to be bailed from a police station an Inspector would have to approve this. Then to keep someone on bail an investigating officer would need the approval of first a Super Intendant and then a Court.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case when Parliament tries to intervene in matters regarding the Criminal Justice System, the change has been cosmetic and arguably detrimental. Suspects who are arrested now face a fourth potential option – Release Under Investigation. This means that an officer will continue to investigate the case, but will not trouble a suspect by giving them a formal bail to return date.
By releasing suspects under investigation, the uncertainty of the situation can cause our clients additional stress.
At ABV Solicitors, we continue to make regular contact with Officers to ensure that cases are not “forgotten” and that our clients have an early resolution.