From time to time, usually with the advent of a high profile case, the length of time a person can be left on Police Bail has been the focus of attention. Reports have well documented lengthy timescales, sometimes as long as twelve months.

Now, the Policing and Crime Act 2017 has brought with it changes to Police Bail time limits. Here, Anita Banerjee looks at how the changes work in practice.

What is Police Bail?

Police bail is officially known as Pre-Charge bail. This is exactly what it says on the tin- it means that a person can be released on bail whilst investigations are being carried out, but before they have been formally charged.

What are the changes?

The initial time limit for police bail will be 28 days. This can be extended once for a period of up to three months if authorised by an officer of at least superintendent level.

Only in exceptional circumstances (for example if a case is especially complex) can the Police apply to a magistrate for a longer time period.

Bail must also only be used where it is ‘necessary and proportionate.’

What could this mean in practice?

It is hoped that the changes will now bring extended periods of police bail to an end. The Police now have clear guidelines to work towards, and their need to persuade a magistrate if they wish to extend time periods should act as a valuable safeguard.

Only time will tell if the new rules bring about real change. If you need advice as to bail time limits, or if you are facing criminal charges, call Anita and the team without delay on 0113 200 7400.

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