Pre-charge bail and released under investigation

Part of: Protecting people from violence and abuse Victims and resolutions


The Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced several changes to policing. One of the main elements of the legislation made changes to bail. In particular, it introduced release without bail (although bail can still be applied if the police consider it “necessary and proportionate in all the circumstances”).

This change allowed for the principle of releasing suspects under investigation, although the legislation does not cover how this should operate. The changes were intended to remedy the problem of suspects being on bail for long periods of time, which caused concerns and uncertainty for both victims and suspects.

Pre-charge bail and released under investigation: Striking a balance – 2020

Jointly with HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI), we inspected police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) responses to the pre-charge bail changes and the use of released under investigation (RUI) between October 2019 and February 2020.

Alongside our inspection, we commissioned research from BritainThinks to explore victims’ and suspects’ experiences of the changes to bail and RUI.

We inspected how six forces used bail and released under investigation (RUI) in 2019. Over this period, we found that most forces had worked hard to adapt to the rapid legislative changes to bail in 2017.

This report sets out our findings and makes a series of recommendations aimed at improving police and CPS practice and making victims and communities safer. To address this situation, the Home Office, College of Policing and police forces should:

  • put in place effective data monitoring and reporting for bail and RUI;
  • develop clear and detailed guidance for officers so that vulnerable victims of domestic abuse and other serious crimes are protected; and
  • make sure that any changes to the legislation lead to improvements for victims of crime as well as suspects.

Read the inspection report:

Pre-charge bail and released under investigation: Striking a balance – 8 December 2020

Read the research report:

Research into victim and suspect experiences of changes to the Police and Crime Act 2017 – 8 December 2020