U-Turn Over Law on Bail To Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

London: New measures will be introduced by the Home Office to enable police to impose bail on suspects in cases of domestic abuse and sexual violence. The reforms come after a joint inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate found that the Policing and Crime Act 2017, which had been intended to remedy the problem of suspects being on bail for long periods of time, increased the likelihood of a case failing to result in the successful prosecution of an offender.

The 2017 Act introduced a presumption against using pre-charge bail unless deemed to be necessary and proportionate, and a 28-day timescale for that bail. However, following concern from campaigners the Home Office has acknowledged that this had the knock-on effect of increasing the number of offenders released under investigation, leading to victims feeling unsafe and unprotected by the police. The report also found that the delays resulting from the act made it more likely that victims would lose confidence and withdraw from the process. The Inspectorate heard evidence that victims and survivors are currently not consulted at all on bail, and in some cases were not informed when bail conditions had been removed.

Ellie Butt, Head of Policy at Refuge, said: ‘Far too many survivors of domestic and sexual abuse who bravely report crimes to the police see alleged perpetrators released under investigation, meaning there are no restrictions on contacting the survivor. This puts many women and children at real risk of harm and is a huge disincentive to reporting.’

Read more: Zohra Nabi, Justice Gap:

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