Police bail - Home Affairs Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Anonymity before charge

1.  Newspapers and the media are prohibited from revealing the name of a person who is the victim of an alleged sexual offence. We recommend that the same right to anonymity should also apply to the person accused of the crime, unless and until they are charged with an offence. (Paragraph 8)

2.  The anonymity of the person making the complaint currently lasts for their lifetime. We do not wish to see that changed. (Paragraph 9)

3.  The police should not release information on a suspect to the media in an informal, unattributed way. If the police do release the name of a suspect it has to be limited to exceptional cases, such as for reasons of public safety. (Paragraph 14)

4.  It is in the interests of the police to demonstrate, post-Leveson, that there is zero tolerance for informal leaks to the press. Police forces need to monitor and publish the number of instances where the identity of a suspect in their area has found its way into the public domain without an attributed source. (Paragraph 15)

Introducing a time limit on bail

5.  We agree that an initial time limit for bail should be introduced. This would not be an absolute time limit, no one would be able to be released because they could not be charged in time. The time limit would require the police to explain the reasons for the investigation taking how long it was taking. It would reduce uncertainty for those involved, and encourage the police to carry out investigations in a timely fashion. (Paragraph 17)

6.  We recommend that there should be a time limit on bail and agree with the proposal for an initial time limit of 28 days. (Paragraph 19)

7.  Any application for an extension to pre-charge bail on exceptional grounds should be made to the magistrates' courts. (Paragraph 21)

8.  The review should not become a rubber stamping exercise, the onus should be on the police to persuade the court that a further period of bail is necessary and proportionate. We recommend the decision to re-bail at three months should be on application to a magistrates' court. In the small proportion of cases where the police seek to extend pre-charge bail beyond six months, the application for re-bail should be to the Crown Court. (Paragraph 26)

9.  It is important that the review process enables the bail subject to challenge the proposal for further bail, and to receive information as to progress in the investigation against them. (Paragraph 27)

No further action

10.  The proposals in the Home Office consultation should improve the amount of information given to a suspect at each review stage. Even so, we find it difficult to understand why someone would be kept on bail for several months and then be told that there would be no further action, without any more information. (Paragraph 29)

11.  We recommend that, where a person has been on bail for longer than six months, and where the final decision is to take no further action, the CPS should write to the individual explaining the decision. The CPS said that they write to the complainant to give an explanation when a case is not proceeded with. In Mr Gambaccini's case there was a decision for No Further Action. Mr Gambaccini told the Committee that the case against him was fictitious. We believe it is unfair to write to the complainant and not to the person who had been complained against. This leaves someone like Mr Gambaccini in limbo without anyone taking responsibility for his twelve months of "trauma". (Paragraph 33)

12.  We recommend that the CPS write and issue a formal apology to Paul Gambaccini with an explanation as to why this case took so long. (Paragraph 34)

13.  The Committee has not considered the situation of those who have not been arrested or bailed but have found themselves in the eye of a media storm as a result of an investigation entering the public domain. We believe in the principle of fairness and timeliness which we have elucidated in the cases of constant bail renewals. The police and the CPS should be as transparent as possible regarding the progress of investigations as they operationally can be, to avoid the situation where these individuals are subject to the "fly paper" tactic described by Mr Gambaccini. (Paragraph 35)

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2015
Prepared 20 March 2015