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New bail arrangements under the Policing and Crime Act 2017

The Act should improve decision making and reduce distress and injustice for individuals placed on bail, but further guidance will be needed first, writes Alec Samuels

13 February 2017

Past pre-charge bail arrangements have been less than satisfactory. Often a suspect has been placed on bail for months, even years, with no charge, left in a sort of legal limbo. Onerous conditions have been imposed, restricting liberty and adding to the emotional and mental stress of the situation. Clearly the police need time to investigate and to collect evidence, and there may be a risk that the suspect will ‘disappear’, but there must be checks and balances: citizens must be safeguarded from abuse. Theresa May, when home secretary, resolved to make changes, and her successor, Amber Rudd, has taken up the task. The aim is that fewer people will be on bail and for a shorter period.

Accordingly, chapter 1 of part 4 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, amending the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), seeks to reform pre-charge bail to stop people remaining on bail for le...

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