In April 2017 new provisions relating to pre-charge bail were introduced. The idea being suspects were not left waiting around for months of end whilst the police carried out their investigations. The new rule in a nutshell allows suspects to be released on pre-charge bail for 28 days to begin with. This can be extended for a further 3 months by a senior police officer. If the police want to extend it beyond this 4-month limit, they must apply to the Magistrates’ Court, who will decide if there should be an extension of the bail period.
Now for anyone working in the criminal justice system will tell you, the idea of getting anyone to do anything within 28 days is frankly laughable let alone the police who, are massively stretched at the moment, to conduct a full and proper investigation into serious allegations. The analysis of most things (DNA, phones, computers etc) seem to take at least 6 weeks and at one time took 6 months!
The unintended by-product of all this is ‘released under investigation’. This is the way around bail for the police. You are simply released from police custody following your interview and told you will be contacted via post with the final result whether it be charged or no further action (this is 2017!)
This means the police don’t have to worry about their 28 day limit or applications to the court etc and, unless you’re initially arrested for a summary only offence, have seemingly unlimited time to prepare a case against you.
The fact of the matter is the new bail rules have done nothing to speed up police investigation and have probably only served to cause further upset and anguish for people who flinch every time the post man calls and disrupt court proceedings (the solicitor who is meant to be at court for them is very often not told about any Charges or court dates!)
If you have been released under investigation by the police it is vitally important that you instruct a police station representative or keep in touch with your legal representative . They can provide a ‘middle man’ between you and the police and will be able to give you more reliable answers than the police in relation to likelihood of facing court proceedings etc.
Many solicitors offer 24hr emergency assistance and, in most circumstances are free so use us while you have the chance. We are available 24/7 for all clients and can be contacted direct on 07725844468