Priti Patel ‘will end release of potentially dangerous suspects with no bail restrictions’ after 97,000 arrestees including ones accused of rape were let out ‘under investigation’ in three years
- Priti Patel will stop suspects from being released with no bail restrictions
- Police will use bail in cases where it is deemed ‘necessary and proportionate’
- 2017 pre-charge bail reform sparked concern victims and public were at risk
Priti Patel will stop potentially dangerous criminal suspects including rapists from being released into the community without bail restrictions.
The Home Secretary will scrap the presumption against releasing suspected offenders on pre-charge bail introduced by Theresa May and implemented in 2017 under new laws to be unveiled this month.
Police will instead be expected to use bail in cases where it is ‘necessary and proportionate’, including those in which there are risks to victims, witnesses and the public, and where it could prevent re-offending.
Ms Patel will also increase the period for which criminal suspects can be bailed from 28 days to up to 90, the Telegraph reports.
This is in order to allow police and prosecutors more time to gather evidence for any prosecution before they have to be released, Ms Patel will explain in an announcement expected this week.
It comes as Freedom of Information figures show that the number of criminal suspects released while still under investigation rose from 6,464 in 2016 to 97,473 in 2019.
Home Secretary Priti Patel will stop potentially dangerous criminal suspects including rapists from being released into the community without restrictions
The 2017 changes were introduced following concerns that some suspects, including those declared innocent of any crimes, were spending months or years on bail.
But police admitted the presumption in favour of release under investigation had resulted in ‘unintended consequences’, with too many suspects allowed back into the community without restrictions.
HM Inspector of Police last month revealed that many domestic abusers were being released without bail conditions.
A Home Office source said bail was not being used when appropriate, ‘including to prevent them committing offences or interfering with witnesses or victims’.
Kay Martin was killed by her estranged husband Alan Martin, 53, after he was released under investigation by Northumbria Police for allegedly raping and abusing his wife
The source told the Telegraph: ‘We want officers to use bail more and to take into greater consideration the victims and impact any decision will have on them. It is putting victims and any other people who may be affected at the heart of the bail process.’
Campaign groups have claimed that the 2017 changes to bail had put victims and the public in danger by leading to thousands of suspected offenders being ‘released under investigation’ by police without curbs.
They had cited cases in which violent suspects have been released by police without any bail conditions and then attacked or killed their victims.
In one instance, 49-year-old Kay Martin was bludgeoned and strangled to death by her estranged husband Alan Martin, 53, after he was released under investigation by Northumbria Police for allegedly raping and abusing his wife.
Kay, a care worker, had suffered at least 12 incidents of domestic abuse in the past seven years, prompting the Sunderland coroner to write to Ms Patel calling for greater protection for victims of domestic violence after their attackers are released under investigation.