Kay’s Law and Reform to Pre-Charge Bail

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Kay’s Law and Reform to Pre-Charge Bail

Following the Government’s movement to confront domestic and sexual abuse, Kay’s Law as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act was launched in October 2022. This was introduced following the passing of Kay Richardson who was murdered in 2018 by her ex-husband. At the time of the offence, her husband was released under investigation, meaning he had no bail conditions, despite there being a history of domestic abuse and clear risk to the victim who had initially reported him for harassment and sexual offences.

Since, there have been multiple attempts to reform the bail system to protect victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault crimes. The most significant being the implementation of ‘Kay’s Law’ which was announced by ex-Safeguarding Minister – Mims Davis. The most significant change is to pre-charge bail.

Pre-Charge Bail

Pre-charge bail is utilised by the police when managing suspects who have been arrested on suspicion of an offence, but further time is required to complete the investigation. The bail is usually set with specific conditions which the alleged offender must meet during the period of investigation.

In 2017, these conditions were amended so that there was a presumption against the use of pre-charge bail unless it was ‘necessary and proportionate, and clear statutory timescales for the initial imposition and extension of bail’. Therefore, the use of pre-charge bail fell with an individual’s being ‘released under investigation’ (RUI).

Release under investigation raises a number of issues including preventing individuals from committing an offence whilst on bail, interfering with victims and/or witnesses, longer investigations leading to an adverse impact in courts.

Police Powers: pre-charge bail – Government Consultation

The initial concerns of RUI and Kay Richardson’s demise pushed the Government to launch a consultation on pre-charge bail with a response being published in January 2021. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act now simplifies the powers and tries to safeguard for victims of crime and the public.


The new changes have since removed the presumption against bail and changes to timescales being consistently used in cases where it is necessary and proportionate. The timescales have now changed to as follows;

  1. Initial pre-charge bail standards at a three-month period meaning officers should conduct and conclude their investigations within this given amount of time.
  2. Two extensions will be available;
    • superintendent will receive six to nine months and,
    • Inspector will receive three to six months.
    • Any further extensions will require authorisation from a magistrate judge.

These changes have been made to protect vulnerable members of the public as multiple factors of risk are to be considered when making decisions as to whether to release an individual on bail. This will be a new duty to seek the views of the victim on the proposed pre-charge bail conditions to ensure that they are robust and involve the opinion of the victim.

This article is co-written by Elisha Kaur, a paralegal in JMW’s Business Crime and Regulation Department.

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