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Pre-charge bail and Released Under Investigation (RUI)

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There are changes to the pre-charge bail arrangements and system of released under investigation (RUI). These come into force in November 2022 when Schedule 4 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 comes into effect.

Here, we discuss what the laws on pre-charge bail and RUI are in the UK, what the changes are going to be and why these changes are being brought into effect. Click here to see the full guidance.

What are the laws on pre-charge bail and RUI?

When someone is arrested, the police will have a number of options at their disposal. These include releasing them on pre-charge bail or releasing them under investigation. If either of the actions are taken, it means that the police are not ready to make an immediate charging decision, but the investigation remains active.

Pre-charge bail

If someone is released on pre-charge bail (also simply referred to as being released on bail), this means that the police will be continuing their investigation to gather more evidence before they are able to make a final charging decision.

RUI

Being released under investigation (also referred to as released without bail) is separate to pre-charge bail. If someone is released under investigation, they are not subject to police bail, with there being no requirements for them to attend the police station again.

The most notable difference between RUI and pre-charge bail is that there is no set time for a decision to be made while someone is RUI. This means that an alleged offender could be left waiting for an indefinite amount of time for a decision to be made by the police.

Why are RUI and pre-charge bail changes being introduced?

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 brought in a number of pre-charge bail changes and RUI changes which remain in effect today. This included a ‘presumption’ against using pre-charge bail unless necessary and proportionate.

After these reforms came into effect, the use of pre-charge bail during criminal investigations fell sharply. This was mirrored by an increase in the number of people who were RUI. This raised concerns that bail was not being used when appropriate and that there would be an increase in the length of cases where bail was not used.

In response to these concerns, the government held a public consultation in February 2020, which sought out views on changing the presumption against the use of bail, as well as amending the statutory framework. The respondents to the consultation strongly agreed with the proposals.

What are the pre-charge bail and RUI changes?

There are due to be a number of pre-charge bail changes and released under investigation changes.

The Law will be encouraging the police to use pre-charge bail in -

“every case where it is necessary and appropriate” as opposed to RUI. This will be achieved by removing the perceived presumption against using pre-charge bail.

Any pre-bail decisions will also be made with specific references -

to safeguard the victim of a crime and any further witnesses. This is particularly where the victim and witnesses are considered to be vulnerable.

The Government has also stated an additional aim of The Act is the introduction of new pre-charge bail time periods for suspects which are more balanced and proportionate to the crime. Victims will therefore be better protected through a new requirement to seek the views of victims on pre-charge bail conditions

The new provisions will mean that standard cases, which have a new initial bail period of three months, can be subject to two further extensions by the police before coming before a magistrates’ court. The first extension being from three months to six months from the bail start date and the second extensions being from six months to nine months from the bail start date.

Standard cases which are designated as exceptionally complex (which necessarily will have already been subject to the second extension above), or non-standard cases can be extended to up to 12 months from the bail start date before coming before a magistrates’ court.

Furthermore, the Act will introduce a new three hour pause on the detention clock so any arrests for pre-charge bail breaches, or ‘failing to answer’ bail do not have a negative effect on the overall custody clock for the original offence.

The reforms are known as ‘Kay’s Law’. This is in memory of Kay Richardson, who lost her life at her ex-partner’s hands while he was released under investigation rather than on bail.

Part 1 of Schedule 4

Part 1 of Schedule 4 will widen the net of officers who are able to grant bail. Under S30A (release of a person arrested elsewhere than at a police station), a ‘custody officer’ is able to grant bail. This has been amended from ‘a police officer of the rank of inspector or above’

The new law will now remove the presumption against the use of pre-charge bail to establish a neutral position within the legislation.

Part 2 of Schedule 4

Part 2 of Schedule 4 creates a set of risk factors which need to be taken into account when considering whether pre-charge bail could be granted.

When determining whether releasing a person on bail is necessary and proportionate, the constable must take the following into consideration:

  1. the need to secure that the person surrenders to custody;
  2. the need to prevent offending by the person;
  3. the need to safeguard victims of crime and witnesses, taking into account any vulnerabilities of any alleged victim of, or alleged witness to, the offence for which the person was arrested where these vulnerabilities have been identified by the constable;
  4. the need to safeguard the person, taking into account any vulnerabilities of the person where these vulnerabilities have been identified by the constable; and
  5. the need to manage risks to the public.

Part 3 of Schedule 4

This establishes a new duty of police to seek the views of victims on pre-charge bail conditions which relate to their safeguarding.

If it is reasonably practicable to do so, the investigating officer must seek the views of the alleged victim (if any) of the relevant offence on –

  1. whether any of the conditions that are relevant conditions should be varied under subsection (1), and
  2. if so, what variations should be made to those conditions.

An investigating officer’s will also have a duty to seek views of alleged victims on conditions of pre-charge bail. The officer, if it is reasonably practicable, must seek the views of the alleged victim (if any) on –

  1. whether relevant conditions should be imposed on the person’s bail, and
  2. if so, what relevant conditions should be imposed.

Part 4 of Schedule 4

Generally, the bail time limit has been extended. Standard cases can be subject to two further extensions (from 3 to 6 months by an inspector, from 6 to 9 months by a superintendent).

  • In standard cases which are designated as exceptionally complex (i.e. they will have already been subject to the second extension above), or in non-standard cases, bail can be extended by up to 12 months from the bail start date before coming before a Magistrates’ court.

Part 5 of Schedule 4

Previously, arrests for a breach of bail conditions or failing to answer bail would wind down the time on the PACE clock. There is now a three-hour pause, which means arrests for breach of bail conditions/failing to answer bail do not affect the original clock.

What should I do if I’m released on pre-charge bail or RUI?

If you have been released on pre-charge bail, or under investigation, it is crucial that you speak to an expert criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible. Just because you have been released and are not being held in police custody, there is still a distinct possibility that you could be charged further down the line (or within the time-limit of pre-charge bail).

Our criminal defence solicitors can carefully assess your personal circumstances and the charges you are facing, advising on the best steps to take. On the same note, if you are asked to return to the police station to face another interview under caution, we can work alongside you to ensure you are well represented to maximise the strength of your legal defence.

Many people incorrectly assume that speaking to a solicitor will signify an admission of guilt. This is not at all accurate. Everyone is entitled to legal representation, no matter their circumstances, and this can make all the difference when it comes to the final outcome of your case.

Get immediate specialist legal advice about pre-charge bail and RUI

If you have been released on pre-charge bail or released under investigation, our criminal defence solicitors are on hand to lend their expertise and provide you with carefully tailored legal support.

Our expert knowledge and vast experience of the criminal justice system means that you can be confident knowing that your case is in the most dedicated and experienced hands. We will provide clear advice in plain English along with sympathetic personal support to help you through this difficult time.

You can contact us 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for an immediate free initial consultation, expert legal advice and representation.

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you quickly.

 

Click here to see how long you can be on bail without charge in the UK.

 

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We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number at 07836 577 556.

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"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

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