The Police must now apply the Pre-Charge Statutory Guidance (March 2023) if an individual is investigated for criminal offences but not yet been charged. An individual under investigation is dealt with by the police in one of three ways;
Following the in-custody investigation process, the investigator should liaise with the custody officer to determine the type of release (pre-charge bail or RUI). The custody officer will then decide whether to release the suspect under investigation.
Released under investigation (RUI) is a phrase is used to describe instances when an individual is released from custody without charge, is not subject to ‘no further action’ (NFA) and is not on bail. Where the pre-conditions for pre-charge bail are not met, the use of RUI can be considered. The process whereby a suspect is RUI is not specified in law.
The use of RUI can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. Therefore, the guidance confirms that individuals subject to RUI are entitled to regular updates and timely resolution of the investigation, whether the case is dealt with by RUI or released on pre-charge bail. The RUI process must have regard to proportionality and necessity. Decisions to RUI should be fully justifiable and documented.
Police must consider the need to protect victims and witnesses, and to ensure the safety of the public. The threat, risk and potential for future harm associated with the investigation must be proportionately managed, taking into consideration the safeguarding of all persons linked to the investigation.
Pre-charge bail is an alternative to custody – it allows for officers and staff to continue the investigation without the suspect being detained. In deciding whether a suspect should be released on bail, the custody officer must
Unconditional bail provides a specific date and time on which the suspect must surrender to custody, as well as a power of arrest should they fail to do so. Unconditional bail gives specific timescales, that the investigation has to adhere.
Conditional bail allows officers to attach conditions to bail, which may help to protect victims or witnesses, preserve evidence and mitigate the risk. However, it is often extremely disadvantageous for the individual being investigated. Therefore, it is imperative that you instruct a legal representative as soon as practicable to ensure the police are held to account; to justify the conditions, act expeditiously and conduct regular reviews. A suspect’s bail conditions can be varied when requested by the suspect or their legal representative.
Your solicitor will ask the police to demonstrate rigorous, transparent processes exist that closely align bail management to the developing investigative plan, to ensure you case does not drift. It is imperative that Pre-charge bail is actively revisited and managed throughout the course of the investigative lifecycle to ensure an individual’s liberty is not unnecessarily curtailed.