Police must seek victims’ views when releasing criminal suspects on bail

A victim’s views, as well as their perception of their ‘future risk of harm’, will be weighed against the rights of uncharged suspects.

08 August 2022

Police must now seek the views of victims when releasing criminal suspects, following a reform of bail rules.

First reported in The Times, police must ask victims about the conditions to be imposed on pre-charge bail.

The victim’s views – as well as their perception of their “future risk of harm” – will then be weighed against the rights of uncharged suspects when deciding their bail conditions.

Once decided, officers are required to inform victims about the conditions.

Any requests by suspects to vary their bail conditions must be put to victims, and custody officers must then be informed of their views.

Police are also required to inform vulnerable or intimidated witnesses of all key decisions regarding suspects’ bail conditions within one working day.

However, the rules do not apply if the victim is a business or corporation.

The recent overhaul of the bail system reversed rules brought in five years ago by the Conservatives when Amber Rudd was home secretary.

These allowed suspects to be released under investigation (RUI) without any conditions, in a bid to limit the number of people spending long periods of time on bail without being charged.

RUI allows suspects to leave custody after an arrest without any restrictions for an unlimited period of time while inquiries continue, rather than having to comply with conditions like living at a certain address, not contacting particular people, or regularly visiting a police station.

However, the overhaul came under scrutiny when Kay Richardson was murdered by her estranged husband, Alan Martin, in 2018 after police released him under investigation. He had a history of domestic abuse and she had reported him for rape.

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