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Release under investigation under scrutiny11th October 2019 Business Crime
The use of release under investigation (RUI) has increased dramatically since changes were made to bail in 2017 and a briefing by the Law Society published on Tuesday has found that thousands of suspects, including those accused of serious violent crimes, are being released without any restrictions putting the public and victims at risk.
The Law Society are now urging the Government to makes changes to the current RUI system.
Changes to bail:
In 2017 the law regarding bail of suspects from the police station was changed in a bid to reduce the time spent by someone on bail, meaning the police can now either put someone on police bail for an initial maximum of 28 days or alternatively release under investigation for an unlimited period of time without any restrictions on the individual. The data available for London Police forces suggests a 85% reduction in bail in the year after the changes, with an equally significant increase in the use of RUI.
Law Society concerns:
The Law Society’s concerns are twofold:
1. Risk to the public and victims of crime
The increase in the use of RUIs has resulted in individuals being released without any conditions leaving them able to contact their alleged victims or potential partners in crime without restriction, being able to leave the country or commit further crimes.
The briefing raises concerns as to the impact this has on victims who may be targeted again by the same perpetrator, as well as the public in general. The research suggests that the police are failing to assess the appropriateness of RUI versus bail but appear to be making the decision based upon the amount of time they will need to build the evidence.
2. People left in limbo
RUIs result in an individual being released with no time limit which effectively is leaving them in limbo often not being aware of what is happening in their case, unaware of whether they remain a suspect or whether the police are even actively investigating their case. The average length of investigation is much longer than police bail. Solicitors who were surveyed as part of the research suggest that in over 98% of cases their client’s mental health, family lives and employment status were impacted by having the investigation hanging over their heads.
The current RUI system is unfair to the accused who need to be dealt with promptly and efficiently. Likewise, the victims too are left waiting open ended for a resolution.
There is no suggestion in the briefing that we should be returning to the pre-2017 regime which left people on tight restrictions for long periods of time, but what the Law Society are calling for is tighter timeframes on RUI and suggest time limits are imposed. These recommendation will undoubtedly be welcomed and endorsed by those under investigation as it allows them to manage the stresses imposed on them from being under investigation.
The full briefing can be read here.
JMW Solicitors' Business Crime and Regulation team can provide assistance with making representations to anyone who is RUI.
The author of this article, Amy Shaffron, Senior Associate in London can be contacted via Amy.Shaffron@jmw.co.uk.