Start your claim

March 20th 2019

Civil Liberties

‘Under investigation’ – the injustice of police leaving more people under suspicion long-term

Andrew Petherbridge

Andrew Petherbridge

Legal Executive and Head of Civil Liberties

‘Under investigation’ – the injustice of police leaving more people under suspicion long-term

One thing that I am constantly reminded of in my role as a civil liberties lawyer is the huge impact being arrested has on an individual – especially those who are eventually found not to have broken the law in any way.

One thing that I am constantly reminded of in my role as a civil liberties lawyer is the huge impact being arrested has on an individual – especially those who are eventually found not to have broken the law in any way.

Being arrested can have a very damaging impact not only on the lives of the person directly involved, but also their families.

Effectively, the finger of suspicion with regards to wrongdoing is pointing in their direction for as long as investigations are ongoing, and there is little they can do about.

Often in such situations, lives are put almost completely on hold.

People can find themselves suspended from work until matters are resolved (particularly when police investigations are linked to a serious offence), and they can find their relationships and close friendships affected.

On occasions those under investigation will eventually be proven innocent and told they are to face no action at all.

Whilst it would be unrealistic to expect police forces never to arrest or question somebody who was not the guilty party in their bid to solve crimes or provide protection to the public, it is entirely realistic to expect police forces to reach firm conclusions in a reasonable amount of time.

According to recent reports, people are currently being left under suspicion, without any charges being made against them, longer than ever.

Police must act quicker as weight of suspicion increases with time

The Government took action to address this issue two years ago, when rules were changed to limit police forces to only being able to keep a suspect on pre-charge bail for a maximum of 28 days, unless there were exceptional circumstances.

It came as the average length of time someone was held on police bail before being charged or released had stretched to 90 days.

In some cases people were left living under a cloud of suspicion for much longer periods – even more than a year – before eventually being cleared of any wrongdoing.

Now, it has been reported that the situation has not improved.

In fact, it has worsened, as suspects are now often being ‘released under investigation’ rather than placed on police bail, and left in this situation for an average of 139 days – almost five months.

According to a report in The Telegraph, in 2016 suspects in Surrey spent an average of 74 days on pre-charge bail awaiting a decision on their case, but since the new system of releasing suspects under investigation was brought in, that has increased to an average of 228 days.

In the Cambridgeshire force region, the length of time it to reach a decision has increased from an average of 57 to 155 days, whilst in Suffolk it has reportedly rose from 54 days to 137.

This ‘released under investigation’ status is intended to carry less stigma, something I feel is very disputable given the threat of prosecution is still hanging over the individual involved.

In fact, I would say that waiting for a decision when either on bail or released under investigation carries the same level of stress.

I’d also say that the same level of suspicion hangs over an individual no matter what terminology is used, the weight of which only increases over the passing of time, as in the minds of many, there is ‘no smoke without fire’.

Without doubt, a lengthy period of time ‘under investigation’ has a negative impact on an individual’s community standing. How can it not?

Report is consistent with cases being handled by civil liberties specialists

Certainly this report, which said more than 80 per cent of criminal suspects are now ‘released under investigation’ rather than on police bail, is consistent with what our team of civil liberties lawyers have been seeing at Hudgell Solicitors.

We are representing a number of people who have been left in limbo waiting for the police to make decisions on cases and have simple been told they are still “under investigation”.

Despite significant periods of time passing, there appears no end in sight for them.

Too often successful policing is judged too simply and is based on the number of crimes solved.

In reality, successful policing is so much more.

Prosecutions must not come at the cost of infringing the rights of law-abiding members of the public by making them endure long periods wrongfully under suspicion, without evidence to charge them for the offences their names are being linked to.

What Our Clients Say

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Highly recommended"

Excellent service and communication from start to finish. The whole process of handling my personal injury claim was dealt with quickly and courteously.

MikeNovember 26, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Becci was amazing"

Becci was amazing, she was so friendly and helpful and couldn’t have done a better job at helping me with my claim. Very happy.

Katherine JanineNovember 08, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Quick honest service"

Quick honest service, smooth process with excellent staff

MR COOPEROctober 30, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"HUDGELL SOLICITORS are great lawyers…"

HUDGELL SOLICITORS are great lawyers whit amazing customers service. I got pretty good deal only because of them I'm quite happy I chose Hudgell solicitor.

DominikOctober 30, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Good all round service"

Good all round service

John AndrewOctober 19, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Efficient"

Quick, efficient service provided by Jayne Woodock. Would definitely contact Hudgell Solicitors again in the future if the need arises

KerryOctober 10, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Thank you"

I have never had to go down the route of claiming for anything like this so when I was advised to do so I did some research and Hugell Solicitors caught my eye. And I’m so glad I picked them, everything was explained well and helped with any questions I…

ZoeOctober 04, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"No problems from start to finish for my…"

No problems from start to finish for my claim.Kept updated regularly and a good outcome even though the defendants were being evasive. Thanks.

r3monkeyOctober 03, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent"

Very professional,efficient service,informative and friendly service. I would highly recommend Hudgell solicitors.

HelenOctober 01, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Good experience"

Good experience

Margaret ElizabethAugust 31, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent"

Friendly, helpful and professional.

M J JAugust 09, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"I would recommend this firm of…solicitor to anyone"

I would recommend this firm of solicitor to anyone I have had a 5 star treatment from Jayne woodcock I cant praise her enough she kept me informed every step of my claim and I cannot thank her enough excellent Jimmy Mcdermott

Jimmy McJuly 28, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very helpful and thorough"

Very helpful and thorough. The team kept me updated throughout. Thank you

EsmeJuly 25, 2019