News the controversial practice of releasing suspects under investigation is to be reviewed was today hailed by the Law Society of England and Wales, which has been campaigning for a rethink.
A high-profile investigation by the Law Society revealed tens of thousands of suspects are being released under investigation (RUI) – an open-ended arrangement which lacks the conditions, balances and checks afforded by bail.
“Our evidence showed how RUI is being used for a wide range of crimes including indictable offences such as rape and murder,” said Law Society president Simon Davis.
“There are concerns that alleged victims and witnesses to crimes are at risk as suspects are not made subject to bail conditions.
“Under RUI, innocent suspects can be left in limbo for months or even years and victims can face an open-ended wait for justice.
“The Law Society has been calling for time limits on the period of time people are left facing criminal investigation so they are dealt with on a reasonable timeframe with consideration for the safety of the public.
On areas of focus for the review, Simon Davis said:
“In the interests of transparency, there should be a centrally-held register of numbers of people released under investigation, broken down by police authority area and offence. Current data collection is inconsistent at best.
“We look to contribute further to the review process moving forward.”
He warned that, although welcome, more efficient investigations must be supported with balanced investment in the wider criminal justice system:
“The Law Society has consistently called for investment is needed across the board – particularly to the courts and the defence.
“Greater efficiency at the investigative stage is needed, though without wider investment we risk bottleneck effect. Rather than reducing crime, more could fall through the cracks of investigation and prosecution.”
Notes to editors
Read our policy briefing, Release Under Investigation: September 2019
About the Law Society
The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.
Press office contact: Liam McCafferty | 0208 049 4028