Changes in pre-charge bail
From April 2017 there have been changes in bail following a suspect being arrested – Yvonne Langham, Head of our ISVA Service has written this blog to explain what these changes could mean for you.
What is bail?
For many years most people who were arrested were given bail, written permission from the court for the suspect to be out of police custody. Bail often had very strict conditions attached. The bail was given while the investigation continued, and a decision made whether there was enough evidence for a formal charge to be made and a case prepared for trial. This resulted in huge amounts of people being on bail for months or even longer, when many of these cases did not lead to a formal charge being made or a court case.
What are the changes?
From April 2017 there will be a ‘presumption to release without bail’ anyone who is arrested. This however will not apply if it is ‘necessary and proportionate’ to place the suspect on bail. Necessary in relation to all the facts known about the suspect and the offence, and proportionate in relation to the seriousness of the offence under investigation.
What does this mean for you?
If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault recently, domestic violence or recent child abuse, it is likely that the suspect will be placed on bail with conditions, as before April 2017. The only difference is that the bail is now time limited. A Police Inspector can authorize a period of 28 days bail and its conditions. Once the 28 days are up and if the investigation is still ongoing, a Superintendent will review the facts of the case and may decide to extend the bail period for up to three months. At the end of that time, if the investigation is still not complete, the police may apply to Magistrates court to extend the bail and its conditions. The Magistrates court must review the facts and agree it is still ‘necessary and proportionate’ for the bail period to be extended.
What if bail with conditions are not given in your case?
If the suspect in your case is released without bail, there are still things the police can do to protect you. The suspect could face further charges, such as witness intimidation or harassment, if they threaten or harass you during the investigation period. This means that they could face being arrested again and further charges being brought against them in court. If the suspect bothers you, tell the police about it straight away! You can do this yourself, or by telling an ISVA at RSVP who can make that call for you.
Unsure if the suspect in your case is on bail or not?
Ask an ISVA at RSVP to find out. We would be happy to contact the police for you.
Contact the ISVA Team by calling 0121 643 0301 and selecting option 2, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.