HMICFRS: Pre-charge bail and released under investigation: striking a balance (December 2020)
Response from: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Hampshire
While Hampshire Constabulary was not a part of this thematic inspection, we value the findings and outcomes, and any learning points on which we can implement. It’s positive to see that HMICFRS recognise the challenge faced by all forces in the legislative changes to bail stating “police forces couldn’t implement the changes effectively in the time they had. And not enough thought was given by the Home Office to how the changes would affect victims. Both these problems were made worse by a lack of clear guidance to police forces on how to implement the new legislation.”
Protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims is core to the work of the criminal justice system, and we must continue to support those in need, especially where those victims of domestic abuse and stalking are informed their perpetrator is released under investigation (RUI) instead of being bailed with conditions. The application of RUI is inconsistent, impacting both the victim and suspect with poor communication on investigation updates.
We fully welcome the review and the need for clearer guidance, to ensure the application of RUI keep victims at the heart of the criminal justice system, while providing fair and equal rights to suspects. Looking forward, we will continue to scrutinise the force on the application of RUI and the implementation of forthcoming guidance to better support forces in this area.
The report makes 10 recommendations, two of which apply to police forces:
- Forces should develop processes and systems to clearly show whether suspects are on bail or RUI. This will help them to better understand the risk a suspect poses to victims and the wider community and will help to increase safeguarding.
- The OPCC will work with the force in reviewing the processes and systems in place around suspects on bail or RUI, ensuring victims remain at the heart of decisions made, and that communications to both victims and suspects are regularly upheld.
- Forces should record whether a suspect is on bail or RUI on the MG3 form when it is submitted to the CPS. This should be regularly checked and any changes in bail or RUI provided to the CPS. The CPS should work with the police to ensure this information is provided.
- The OPCC will work with the force in working through how consistency can be applied in the accurate recording and updates being provided to the CPS.