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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he plans to assess the long-term effect of the provisions on pre-charge bail in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 on (a) victim and (b) witness protection in relation to the high-harm offences of (i) domestic abuse, (ii) hate crime, (iii) serious sexual offences, (iv) rape and (v) child abuse; and if he will make a statement.
Following the 2017 reforms to pre-charge bail, the police are still able to impose pre-charge bail, with appropriate conditions, to protect victims and witnesses in any case where doing so is both necessary and proportionate.
While the legislation is clear that bail remains available in any case where it is necessary and proportionate, the Home Office is working with partners across the Criminal Justice System to monitor the impacts of the reforms, including to ensure that vulnerable victims and witnesses continue to receive appropriate protection, whether through the use of pre-charge bail conditions or otherwise.
In order to ensure that bail is used appropriately, the Home Office has commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary & Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to review the police’s use of pre-charge bail as part of their annual PEEL effectiveness inspection programme. The use of pre-charge bail continues to feature in HMICFRS’ core assessments and, in November 2018, the Inspectorate will publish a thematic review of how forces are dealing with domestic abuse cases, which will include a focus on the use of bail.
Pre-charge bail is also a regular agenda item at Chief Constables’ Council, where chiefs have noted that there is significant variation in the use of pre-charge bail between forces and that they should ensure that they are content with the approach taken by their force.