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The tick tock of the PACE clock

Rachel Cook discusses proposals for limits on police/pre-charge bail, redressing the balance of ex-parte hearings and caution culture

25 November 2014

Proposals for limits on police/pre-charge bail

In 2013, more than 57,000 people were subject to pre-charge bail, with over 3,100 of those remaining on bail for six months or more. One individual spent over three-and-a-half years on bail, before being released without charge. Recent high profile cases, such as Neil Wallis, Paul Gambaccini and Freddie Starr, who spent 19, 12 and 18 months on bail respectively, have led to concerns that pre-charge bail is increasingly being used by police as a substitute for prompt and proactive evidence gathering, with a ‘bail and see’ approach proliferating.

Section 47 of the amended Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) provides that the police may detain a suspect for an initial 24-hour period, with a superintendent able to autho...

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