Bar Council response to pre-charge bail reform plans

Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“This consultation on pre-charge bail is an opportunity to address the recent, troubling increase in the numbers of individuals being ‘released under investigation’ or RUI. In trying to cope with limited resources and rising crime the police unexpectedly used RUI in very serious cases, thereby avoiding imposing the bail conditions necessary to protect the victim, witnesses or the public at large.

“The inordinate delays in criminal investigations and court proceedings make this all the more worrying. We must not, however, forget though that our legal system is underpinned by the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and the rights of suspects will be adversely affected by these measures. We will look carefully at the government’s plan to remove the presumption against bail on arrest. We will examine the proposal to double (at least) the period of time that suspects can be subject to bail conditions, which curtail their freedom when they have not even been charged with, let alone convicted of, an offence.

“We will also look at the lower rank of officers allowed to impose or extend those bail conditions without the independent oversight of a court. We will work with the Home Office to ensure the Bar’s voice is heard in this consultation.”

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