These days police officers can't blow their noses without authority from an inspector or chief inspector. The micromanagement continues and the Metropolitan Police senior officers go on rewriting the rules as if they think the law doesn't apply to them.
They're like bonobos in a cage - throwing their excrement at one another.
There's currently a serious problem with the decision to grant bail to a suspect. Let me explain.
a person has been arrested and interviewed she will probably enjoy a
custody meal – perhaps a delicious gluten-free chicken korma or a low
salt all-day breakfast, usually accompanied by a cup of tea containing
three or four spoonfuls of sugar.
Then, one of several things will
happen. If there is outstanding evidence to be collected (CCTV,
statements, phone records, bird entrails consulted), the suspect should
normally be released on police bail. This means that she is given a date
to return to the police station three or four weeks in the future,
during which time the investigator will have hopefully obtained all the
After the interview the custody sergeant can
decide to keep the suspect in custody during the rest of the
investigation. The sergeant has to believe there's good reason, for
example, that the suspect has a history of threatening witnesses.
Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and the Bail Act designate the
custody officer (usually a sergeant) as the person who makes this
decision. Not the inspector, not even the Commissioner on a day when
he's eaten three shredded wheat can overrule the custody sergeant.
If the suspect is bailed and there's still outstanding evidence when the suspect returns, she can be bailed again. ('Rebailed').
bail/remand decision used to lie within the auspice of the custody
sergeant – the officer who meets every prisoner, evaluates her welfare
issues and learns the nature of the criminal allegation.
Since a few months ago however, senior officers have decided to ignore the Bail Act and PACE.
bonobos in the board rooms of New Scotland Yard took it upon themselves
to decide that a suspect cannot now be bailed without an inspector's
Seriously do these dudes just make it up as they go along?
is unlawful because it's contrary to PACE and the Bail Act.
Bail/no-bail is a decision for the custody officer only. Keeping a
person in custody cannot be legally justified if the custody officer has
made the decision to bail.
It's also completely impractical.
During a night shift it might be impossible to find an inspector. They
are very busy people and not usually very approachable. Running around
trying to find an inspector is one more hoop to leap through, in
addition to the hundred an officer already has.
And if evidence
that might take weeks to collect is outstanding, and there is no clear
justification for keep the person locked up, shouldn't the prisoner be
released? It's ethical and it's what the law tells us to do.
someone quickly is thought to be good for the performance figures and
the bonobos believe that the only way to achieve this is by making it
difficult for officers to grant bail.
Instead of creating
resistance, they could have decided to make it easier to charge
prisoners – to actually assist constables by providing resources:
perhaps detectives to help uniformed officers with their investigations.
But no. As usual the carrot wasn't offered. It's all about the stick.
isn't the first time that Met police bosses officers have created
unlawful policy. For example they are still trying to pressure
constables to arrest at domestics, insisting that we MUST arrest because
there is a 'positive arrest policy'.
There is no such thing and
there never has been. The original ACPO policy was for 'positive
action', i.e. separating the two parties. 'Positive arrest' and
'positive action' - similar wordings. The bonobos believe that if they
say it quickly enough the constables won't notice the difference.
back to bail and this policy of pressuring constables to charge.
Suspects are now being charged in a panic before the investigating
officer has obtained all the evidence and concluded his investigation.
problem here is that (1) suspects are being tried in court without all
the evidence available, (2) some of that evidence might exonerate the
suspect, and (3) again this is unlawful.
PACE states that charging
(or issuing a ticket, caution or unconditional release) must take place
AFTER all the evidence has been gathered and considered.
Ahh, the obsession with centralising control.
only a matter of time until this bail policy is the subject of a civil
court case against the Met. I look forward to that.