Proposed changes to rules related to pre-charge bail will provide better protection for victims and witnesses in cases of domestic or sexual violence, says home secretary Priti Patel.
The new measures will enable police to impose strict conditions on suspects in high-harm cases during ongoing investigations, but also ensure individuals are not held on bail for an unreasonable length of time.
“Too often, the [current] presumption against pre-charge bail has meant that perpetrators of domestic abuse have not been subject to bail conditions which meant they could continue to intimidate their victims and cause untold anxiety, fear and concern,” Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, was quoted as saying by the Independent newspaper.
Dame Vera Baird, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said: “It is important that complainants are contacted to ask whether there are any fears or threats which may inform a police bail decision.”
The changes, to be included in a new criminal justice bill, follow a Home Office consultation into the pre-charge bail system in which more than 80% of respondents agreed the current system’s presumption against pre-charge bail should be removed.
The Home Office says the reforms will be named ‘Kay’s Law’ in memory of Kay Richardson, who was murdered by her ex-partner following his release under investigation, despite evidence of previous domestic abuse.