The Policing & Crime Act 2017 - To bail or not to bail?

The Policing and Crime Act, the critical provisions of which came into effect on 3 April 2017, creates an entirely new regime for Police bail.

Existing provisions had long been criticised for keeping suspects on bail indefinitely. Statistics taken from the Metropolitan Police area revealed that, in 2014, over 4000 people were on bail for well over 6 months. Nationally, in 2016, the average bail length across the Country was 56 days. Our experience is that many Directors and/or Senior Managers arrested following an incident have the real stigma of being ‘on bail’ for many months until a decision whether to charge is made by the Police.

In response to this criticism and the stress being caused to innocent people, the Home Secretary championed the new legislation, claiming that the reforms introduced by the Policing and Crime Act will mean that fewer people are placed on bail for shorter periods.It is clear that this new legislation seeks to strike a balance between the need for the Police to manage investigations and not having a suspect on bail for an unacceptably long period. However, whether this can be realistically achieved is another matter altogether

So what are the changes?

Are these changes likely to benefit those under investigation?

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.