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RUI changes 'unacceptable' and rushed say Inspectorates


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Controversial changes to the bail system for suspects in criminal cases are 'unacceptable', according to Inspectors.I


RUI changes 'unacceptable' and rushed say Inspectorates
Date - 8th December 2020

By - Chris Smith

A review by HM Inspectorate found the introduction of the Released Under Investigation (RUI) had left victims of crime vulnerable and created uncertainty for people arrested.

The changes, brought in under the Police and Crime Act 2017, were in part intended to remedy the problem of suspects being on bail for long periods of time.

But the joint inspection between HMI and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) found suspects are still faced with lengthy delays.

Victims of crime were unanimous in their criticism of the changes who said they were left with fewer protections than under the bail system that can impose restrictions.

The joint review delivered a blistering verdict of the changes which have also been criticised by frontline officers and groups representing victims of crime.

There was also a familiar warning that the process was not being applied to one standard by forces across the country because of unclear guidance.

Then-serving Home Office ministers and officials were criticised for the way they brought the changes in.

“The speed at which the legislation was put through limited the time available to address the consequences of these changes. Both the police and the College of Policing highlighted the potential risks before the changes were implemented.

"Inspectors also found a lack of accurate data, which means that any increased risk brought about by the legislation change is difficult to assess,” the Inspectorates said.  

The overhaul coincided with austerity-era cuts to the courts and probation service, a botched privatisation of offender management and cuts to forensic capacity. But the review said the outcomes had been poor for the very people who were supposed to have been helped.

The review concluded: “Investigations involving suspects released under investigation (RUI) tend to take longer and are subject to less scrutiny than ones involving bail.”

Criticism was strongest against support for victims of domestic violence who have some of the worst outcomes for prosecution: “Some victims of domestic abuse do not receive any of the protections which can be provided by bail conditions when their abusers are RUI.

"And for suspects who are RUI, the justice process can take months or years. The scrutiny that is applied to bail cases is lacking in RUI cases, leaving suspects in limbo for months and in some cases over a year.”

The Inspectorates concluded: “We think this is unacceptable.”

The inspection also found:

that not enough thought was given as to how the legislative changes would affect victims;
that victims and suspects do not understand the legislation and are not being updated about the progress of their case.  
On behalf of HMICFRS and HMCPSI, HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said: “Our inspection found that policing was ill-prepared to put into practice the changes to bail legislation made in 2017.

"Forces were not given adequate guidance, which resulted in a range of interpretations of the legislation across England and Wales. These changes also had negative unintended consequences for victims as well as suspects."

She added: “We found that in many cases of domestic abuse and stalking, suspects are released under investigation instead of being formally bailed with conditions. This is very worrying because of the high harm and risk associated with these types of crime, and it is clear through our research that victims of domestic abuse feel less safe since the changes were made.”  

Changes have been made by police leaders to improve the system but the Inspectorates warned ministers would have to fix the problem urgently.

Zoe Billingham said: “The Home Office has recently completed a public consultation on these issues. We have added our inspection findings to this consultation. We urge all involved in revising the legislation to reflect on the findings of our report and ensure any changes better balances the needs of all those in the Criminal Justice System.”

Chief Constable Darren Martland, the National Police Chiefs Council lead for Bail, backed the report’s findings.

Mr Martland said: “Our first priority is to keep people safe and we are committed to doing everything we can to protect victims and witnesses as investigations progress, while also respecting the rights of suspects.

“As Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found, there is more to do to ensure bail is properly used to best effect and we support all of the recommendations they have made.

“We will now work closely with the College of Policing and the Home Office to review the legislation and implement the Inspectorate’s recommendations so that we are making full use of bail to protect vulnerable victims and witnesses while upholding the rights of suspects.”

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Wow! This is news to me. Why hasn't anyone mentioned it before? 🤷‍♂️

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surely it was a vivid imagination that they thought by 'just' changing the name of how they were bailing people that it would speed up the investigation process?

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It's not like we (the police) said this at the time. 

Ah well, three years later they're finally admitting it. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 09/12/2020 at 19:03, Radman said:

It's not like we (the police) said this at the time. 

Ah well, three years later they're finally admitting it. 

First rule of policing: ignore, discredit and rubbish the people who actually know what they 're talking about and have to implement the changes.

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