Chair welcomes reform of pre-charge bail


PUBLISHED 15 Jan 2021

IN News

Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has welcomed reforms to police bail.

Liz says the changes, which were announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel, will also cut red tape for officers.

The current arrangements were brought in by Theresa May in 2017 as part of the Policing and Crime Act and allowed suspects to be released on pre-charge bail for up to 28 days.

The Federation successfully predicted pre-charge bail would drop dramatically and the release of suspects under investigation would become the norm.

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show the number of suspected offenders released while those still under investigation rose from 6,464 in 2016 to 97,473 in 2019, including violent and sexual offenders as well as domestic abusers.

The new changes will see the initial pre-charge bail period increase to three months with further extensions requiring a sign-off from an inspector or above.

Liz said: “We’re pleased to see the much-needed changes announced by the Home Secretary. The Federation warned that the reform to pre-charge bail in 2017 could do more harm than good, which was borne out.

“Victims of crime have been left at increased risk because of the numbers of suspects released under investigation.

“We welcome these changes, which seek to protect victims and witnesses while cutting red tape for officers,” she added.

John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “These changes to the bail system are much needed and long-overdue.”

And he concluded: “These reforms are welcomed, and it is refreshing to have a Government which listened to police officers during the consultation period and acted to give colleagues better support as they carry out investigations.”

The full package of reforms will be named ‘Kay’s Law’ in memory of Kay Richardson, who was murdered by her ex-partner following his release while he was under previous investigation for domestic abuse.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of the families of victims like Kay Richardson, and I want them to know their voices have been heard. Victims and witnesses of the most distressing crimes – including domestic abuse and sexual violence – must be protected while allegations are investigated.

“It is my priority to deliver justice for victims, and Kay’s Law will put victims at the heart of the bail system, empower police to ensure that suspects are closely monitored and protect the public.”