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Police committed to protecting victims whilst respecting rights of suspects

08 Dec 2020

An inspection of the implementation of the Police and Crime Act 2017, which put changes around police use of bail into legislation, has been published.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services made a number of recommendations for government, police and others.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Bail, Chief Constable Darren Martland, said:

“Our first priority is to keep people safe and we are committed to doing everything we can to protect victims and witnesses as investigations progress, while also respecting the rights of suspects.

“The legislation governing the use of bail changed in 2017, introducing a presumption that suspects would be released under investigation, unless it could be shown to be necessary and proportionate to use bail conditions.

“At the time of the changes, police chiefs highlighted concerns regarding the impact they may have on victims and witnesses and the speed of their introduction, which gave very little time to prepare for such a major change of approach.

“Policing introduced guidance to address the new legislation, which reinforced the fact that bail remains a legitimate tool that should be used to protect victims or vulnerable people when necessary and proportionate.

“As Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found, there is more to do to ensure bail is properly used to best effect and we support all of the recommendations they have made.

“We will now work closely with the College of Policing and the Home Office to review the legislation and implement the Inspectorate's recommendations so that we are making full use of bail to protect vulnerable victims and witnesses while upholding the rights of suspects.”