Challenging Police Bail

29th October 2014 Business Crime

Theresa May, the home secretary, has recently proposed a statutory limit on bail time. This decision is aimed at reducing the number of cases whereby individuals can face months, and even years on bail to eventually be released without charge. Whilst bail conditions can be challenged, there is currently no limit on bail time within the UK. Often such cases can move very slowly with a lack of progress evident, and certainly a lack of urgency. These components therefore lead to situations where suspects can be waiting for months only to end up being released without charge.

Recently a number of high profile cases of this effect have hit the headlines, including that of Jim Davidson. The comedian spent 8 months on bail before being told no further action would be taken. Additional cases which are widely visible in the media have finally led to a proposed breakthrough in legislation which would be aimed at preventing repeat situations. The home secretary has now spoken about the issue and is due to convey this to the College of Policing who are responsible for these guidelines.

Research on this issue carried out by the BBC found that around 3,000 people had been kept on police bail for more than six months. Those subject to lengthy periods on bail are subject to a number of disadvantages. Terms of bail are very much dependent on the alleged crime under investigation. They often carry severe implications for work, career progression and travel. Bail can also have social implications with individuals suffering from reputational damage, with the added issue that many plans must be put on hold until the bail time is ended. Reputational management is critical to clients in the public eye and police bail conditions can lead to declines in those suspects' careers.

An introduction of a limit on police bail time would be welcomed within law firms, with a decrease in the number of innocent clients who are subject to lengthy periods on bail. This breakthrough in bail legislation would signify a pivotal change in the handling of clients, and could lead to a large decrease in unfair treatment exerted on suspects'.

Specialist legal advice at an early stage can limit reputational damage, protect a suspect's rights and advance their case for variation or, where appropriate, discharge of police bail conditions. JMW offer partner led services in this respect within our private client criminal team, media law and litigation department.

Call one of the team for a no obligation discussion.

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Evan Wright is a Partner located in Manchester in our Business Crime & Regulation department

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