Woman, 38, spent more than two years on bail, Suffolk police reveal
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The length of time suspects are bailed in Suffolk has been questioned after it emerged three people were kept on police bail for more than two years after their first arrest.
A 38-year-old woman and 52-year-old man, both from Sudbury and each arrested for fraud by misrepresentation offences, were kept on police bail for 868 days and 867 days respectively.
A 51-year-old man from Stowmarket, arrested in a money-laundering case, was also bailed for 738 days. The data, released by Suffolk Constabulary after a Freedom of Information request, did not provide further details about the investigations.
But they took place after the pre-charge bail was introduced in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The legislation gave police the power to put someone who has been arrested under bail while they gather more evidence.
Previously, people suspected of crimes would be held in prison while police investigated the allegations. If insufficient evidence was found, they would be released without charge.
By allowing suspects to be released on bail before charge, it was hoped there would be less pressure on the prison service and fewer innocent people being imprisoned.
Last night, Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “While I fully appreciate the need for police bail, some of these lengths of bail do appear to be unnecessarily long.
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“We all want to see justice done but we don’t want to have to wait too long to see it. I would hope that the specific issues highlighted in this Freedom of Information response are exceptional cases and there has been a clear operational need for these.
“Part of my role as police and crime commissioner is to ensure public confidence in the whole criminal justice system so I will ask the chief constable to furnish me with the specific detail of each case so I can be reassured these are real exceptions.”
In March, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a senior police officer would have to authorise police bail for longer than 28 days and a magistrate for more than three months.
There is currently no time limit and no need for police to seek approval to get bail extended before charge.
Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Shrubshall, of the joint justice command at Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Criminal cases should be concluded as swiftly, justly and transparently as possible. This is important both for victims, and in preserving public confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole.
“But officers must have the time needed to deal with complex investigations appropriately and thoroughly, as it is equally important for the victim to have a positive outcome where possible.”