As published in the Daily Telegraph:
SIR – Pre-charge bail was introduced 30 years ago to limit the freedom of individuals while police conducted further investigations. No restriction was put on the amount of time police could hold someone on pre-charge bail.
This has led to a perversion of justice where, today, more than 70,000 people are languishing in a form of legal limbo in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
More than 5,000 have been on police bail for at least six months. Innocent people have been left on bail for years before their cases are dropped or thrown out of court. Their careers are put on hold, and the mental anguish of not knowing what will happen is in itself a form of punishment without trial. There is no right of appeal.
These individuals are innocent until proved guilty, but justice delayed is justice denied. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has called for a time limit for pre-charge bail. We believe it should be a maximum of 28 days, reviewed by a judge and not by police. The Government must act swiftly to turn words into action.
Damian Green MP (Con) Former police minister; Nigel Evans MP (Con); Eddy Shah; David Davis MP (Con); Caroline Lucas MP (Green); Baroness Butler-Sloss (Crossbench); Lord Black of Brentwood (Con); Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Lab); Lord Paddick (Lib Dem); Frances Cook; CEO, Howard League for Penal Reform