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MA response to Home Office consultation on pre-charge bail

26 May 2020
MA response to Home Office consultation on pre-charge bail

The MA has responded to the Home Office's consultation on pre-charge bail. Our response made the following points:

  • We disagreed that the general presumption against pre-charge bail should be removed, as the underlying principle for all bail decisions should be a presumption for the least restrictive measures necessary. In order to follow the same principle, there should remain a presumption against pre-charge bail, unless there are clear risks identified which justify pre-charge bail.
  • We agreed that the application of pre-charge bail should have due regard to specific risk-factors, including the need to safeguard victims and witnesses and the need to manage risks of a suspect absconding. However, we raised some concerns in relation to the proposals to include the severity of the actual, potential or intended impact of the offence; the need to prevent further offending; and the need to manage risk to the public as factors to consider in the application of pre-charge bail.
  • We did not support extending the timescales before magistrate oversight is required over pre-charge bail, as these were introduced in response to concerns about the negative impacts of delays on all parties, which can potentially have damaging repercussions to the interests of justice. We argued that pre-charge bail timescales were implemented to ensure investigations are carried out in a timely manner, so it would be perverse to look at the length of time taken for the longest investigations and build the system around those cases. 
  • We noted concerns around the use of released under investigation (RUI), which revolve around the fact that individuals can be left RUI for long periods. This can cause anxiety for suspects. We supported the proposal that there should be timescales in code of practice around the supervision of RUI and voluntary attendance cases. 

Our full response can be found here.

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