Police stations in chaos over detention period

Saturday 2 July 2011 at 8:20 am | In News | Post Comment


Police practice 25 years now wrong
Manchester Police v Hookway, 19 May 2011 means that suspects cannot be released on police bail for more than 96 hours, and is a disaster for police on a national scale.

The government will bring forward “emergency” legislation to reverse the effect of Hookway, the Act will receive Royal Assent within the next 14 days.

The decision, which relates to a case involving Greater Manchester Police (GMP), means that thousands of potential suspects, including those being investigated for murder and rape, would have to be released without charge, and only re-arrested if new evidence emerges.

Under current measures, suspects can be released on bail pending further inquires for weeks, or even months, in some cases.

The Hookway case was heard by Mr Justice McCombe in the High Court in May.

The initial ruling was made by the district judge at Salford Magistrates’ Court, who said the detention clock continued to run while the suspect was on bail.

Paul Hookway, a murder suspect, was arrested in November last year. Police had been given permission to detain him for 36 hours but he was released after 28.

Five months later, GMP applied to the courts to extend the period of detention from 36 hours to the maximum of 96 hours. But the district judge refused, saying that the 96 hours had expired months ago.

The ruling means the ‘detention clock’ could not be stopped which has been the practice across all forces over the past 25 years.

Chief Constable Jim Baker-McCardle, ACPO lead on this issue, said:
“This ruling has a profound impact on how the police have investigated crime under a legal framework interpreted and used during the last 25 years. Unless overturned, the indications are its effect is that police can no longer put anyone out on bail for more than 96 hours without either being in a position to charge or release.

What of cases which relied on confessions obtained in breach of PACE?

There may be millions of cases of bail since 1 January 1986 when PACE 1984 came in to force, will they now have been unlawfuly detained and so eligible for compensation, via the Legal Ombudsman – legislation cannot be retrospective and so would not normally deal with such issues.
Claims could only go back 6 years, but this would still be expensive for the government.

This case is headed straight to the Supreme Court at the end of July.

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