RUI: Released Under Investigation or Released Unto Infinity?
Ben Jones, Director, looks at whether the changes to police bail, brought about in 2017, have had a beneficial or detrimental impact.
In April 2017 changes were made to pre-charge bail, also known as police bail, that were meant to signal the end of suspects being held on bail without charge (often with conditions) for months or even years on end. On the face of it a commendable change in the law to avoid abuses in the system.
In the words of Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, justifying her actions at that time:
“Pre-charge bail is a useful and necessary tool, but in many cases it is being imposed on people for many months, or even years, without any judicial oversight – and that cannot be right. These important reforms will mean fewer people are placed on bail and for shorter periods.”
“They will bring about much-needed safeguards – public accountability and independent scrutiny – while ensuring the police can continue to do their vital work.”
At Opus Law we are dedicated to defending, at every stage of proceedings, those who have been investigated and charged with the most serious of offences. Our daily caseload involves multi-million pound frauds, complex conspiracies, and grave and sensitive offences such as murder. It goes without saying that these cases, which sit at the top end of seriousness in the criminal spectrum, can often take some time to properly investigate. We were therefore intrigued as to how the new regime would impact upon our clients.
It would seem, after a reasonable period of trial, that the answer quite frankly is that the new regime has failed spectacularly.
Let us recap. The old bail rules allowed a person to be released from the police station and placed on bail to a date and time in the near or semi-distant future whilst investigations continued. These bail dates could be further extended and often resulted, especially in serious fraud cases, with a suspect being on police bail for months or even years. This of course was not acceptable and change was needed and brought about.
Since 2017, under the new system an investigating team can still place a person on police bail, but only for an initial period of 28 days. This can then be extended up to a period of 3 months on the authority of a police officer at Superintendent level or above. In exceptional circumstances this can be extended yet further by a Magistrates’ Court.
With this in place, common sense would dictate that investigations now take place swiftly and suspects learn promptly whether or not they will face prosecution. Sadly, however, this is not the case as rather than bringing focus and expedition to an investigation, the investigation team simply skirt around the bail provisions by Releasing Under Investigations (RUI). So, where the authorities know their investigations will take them beyond the new bail limitation periods the neat trick is to Release Under Investigation. The person is not placed on bail but simply released while the officers go about their work. There is no timescale, no timeline that must be accounted for. You are simply told the investigation team will be in touch if and when.
When Released Under Investigation there is less public accountability, less independent scrutiny and certainly no judicial oversight. You are simply in the hands only of those who investigate you. The officers are without fear of having to justify their slow-moving investigation to an impatient Custody Officer when trying to extend bail. On the face of it an investigating team have no-one to answer to.
On reflection the old system may have been better. One had a date to aim for, a downtime between bail dates, a date when a decision could or might be made. Now every day is a day of waiting and which may involve the fear of a postal requisition containing a charge, a phone call from the police or perhaps the arrival of devastating news. There is never a perfect analogy. Perhaps the easiest to understand is being called to your GP who tells you that you may have something fundamentally wrong but he does not know yet, but if there is then it will involve immeasurable stress and be potentially life changing not only to you but also your loved ones. You are bound to ask when you will be seeing a specialist and when your situation be resolved. Imagine then the answer being that he would simply be in touch. “But when?” you implore. “When we are ready” comes the reply.
It is often the fear of the unknown that is worse than the problem itself.
A recent example is to have a female client - a woman of good character, a mother and a wife - say “I wish they would just charge me, at least then I could fight back”. She has been under investigation for over a year.
The new police bail regime is failing the people it sought to protect and it would seem we are in a far worse position than we were before the enactment of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
Please do not think this a thinly disguised barb at the Police or the Crown Prosecution Service, the prosecuting solicitors. The axe of public cuts has fallen as brutally on the prosecution side as it has on the defence. This article is not meant to stray into this well documented territory.
This piece is born out of a frustration for our clients who remain stressed, anxious, and exasperated for months, sometimes years.
There are no promised “much-needed safeguards”. People are left to whither “for many months, even years”. There is no “judicial oversight”. Life on hold encased in amber. Exactly what Miss Rudd sought to eradicate.
John Bottomley On How To Secure Work Experience in The Law Society Gazette.
John Bottomley, Higher Court Advocate, penned an article for The Law Society Gazette to assist law students. Read more here:
Over 2 million people in the UK are living with cancer and it is likely that you reading this have known somebody affected. Cancer affects so many lives, not just those of the who suffer from the illness, but the friends and family too.
We held our own Macmillan Coffee Morning yesterday. Coffees were drank, sweet treats were shared and generous donations were made by our lovely staff and friends in support of this great cause. By coming together and sharing a drink and having a natter we ensuring no one has to face cancer alone.
Don’t forget to sign up for your own Coffee morning kit or click here to find out where a coffee morning is taking place near you.
IT Meltdown leads to chaos
The boss of British Airways’ parent company says that human error caused an IT meltdown that led to travel chaos for 75,000 passengers.
If your flight arrival was delayed or cancelled because of this, you may be entitled to compensation. Click here to see if you can make a claim.
e.g. if your flight was between 1,500 km and 3,500 km and your arrival delayed by more than 3 hours, you may be entitled to 400 euros (£340) per person.
For immediate advice call Stuart Lowrey on 01274 724114 or email:
Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors has always been keen to support our local team and are proud to announce that along with many other well know and prestigious local companies we are supporting Bradford City football clubs #Team twenty campaign.
Visit our facebook page to find links and learn more.
More than 23,000 allegations of abuse by home care workers against elderly and vulnerable people were made in the last three years, yet just 15 people were prosecuted as a result, new figures show.
…figures suggest that one in 25 people may be suffering at the hands of their carers.
BBC Radio 4 File on 4 programme asked every council in England, Scotland and Wales, for the numbers of allegations of abuse and neglect made against home carers who were contracted by local authorities to provide home care.
They discovered 23,428 accusations of mistreatment, including 12,000 allegations concerning neglect, 2,400 cases of psychological abuse, more than 3,400 allegations of physical abuse, and 400 claims of sexual abuse.
Yet just 700 of the allegations resulted in police action, and there were just 15 prosecutions.
Bridget Warr, chief executive of the UK Home Care Association, described the findings as “horrifying.”
If you have a vulnerable relative who you feel may be affected by these issues, and you would like independent legal advice, contact Stuart Lowrey on 01274 724114 or email email@example.com
My Legal Life - Rachim Singh
Ray Singh Director at Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors speaks to The Law Society Gazette about a life in law.
After Miss K, a minor at the time of the accident, was unfortunate to be involved in an accident - Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors were there to provide the legal advice and support she needed to help her through this difficult time.
Miss K faced a long recovery and oppositions from the defendants however Petherbridge Bassra successfully recovered the compensation Miss K was due to assist her in her recovery.
Miss K had this to say:
“I just wanted to drop you a note to say thank you for dealing with my accident claim. In fact it has gone on for years but you dealt with it so well that it seems a shorter period.
Thank you so much and I am pleased my family chose you to represent me”
A Great Day for Halifax 20.10.16
Ray Singh appeared in 3 separate cases for clients from our Halifax Office “BRIMBLE and CO” at Bradford Crown Court
D charged with 2 counts of offering to supply Class A Drugs – avoided custody.
D charged with 7 Counts of supplying Class A drugs, despite D having previous convictions for supplying Class A drugs – avoided custody
D charged with conspiracy to burgle dwelling houses – application to dismiss before trial successful
An incident captured on CCTV
Our in-house Solicitor Advocate, John Bottomley has won another jury trial at Bradford Crown Court. This now brings his total to 6-0 and he remains undefeated in the Crown Court.
This most recent victory was an allegation of causing grievous bodily harm, the incident was captured on CCTV and our client claimed he was acting in self-defence, with Mr Bottomley’s assistance the jury agreed with our client and found him not guilty.
Leading local law firm Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors continue to go from strength to strength. Their latest round of recruitment demonstrates the expanding nature of the firm with 3 new lawyers joining the ever-growing team. At a time when many firms are consolidating Petherbridge Bassra are looking ahead and planning for the future by taking on 3 new trainee solicitors.
Rachel Mellor will work in the long established criminal department, the largest in the town and one of the most significant in Yorkshire. It also has national standing in areas such as white-collar crime.
Umar Shafat will be based in the growing civil department, and likewise Bhavika Patel in commercial. Both these appointments demonstrate the widening in the scope of the firm’s work, making it very much a “one stop” for all legal needs.
Senior partner Ray Singh said “Our vision is to remain based in and committed to the City. All 3 of my new colleagues are local to the area and have demonstrated a great aptitude to their respective roles. It shows our commitment to local talent of the highest calibre. I am sure they will be fantastic assets to the firm”
For further information contact Rachim Singh – 01274 724114
Ben Jones and Lisa Julian, Partners, were both instructed in this unusual and difficult case. From arrest at the police station to today’s final hearing, we advised and assisted K throughout this prosecution involving a highly unusual set of facts.
The case was complex and required careful case management in the representation of our client who was a youth at the time of the offence. All avenues were explored as we built a strong case in mitigation. This case has already attracted national press.
The case shows our dedication to vulnerable youths who find themselves charged with the most serious of crimes.
The case has been reported as below after reporting restrictions were lifted:
Q. What is the connection between Petherbridge Bassra and this movie, that is currently in production, about the first action in the early hours of D Day 1944 by a company of gliderborne British troops from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry tasked to capture two vital bridges?
A. Philip Sweeney, the former head of our specialist fraud department Opus Law who remains as a consultant of the firm.
A. Because his father was the late Colonel Tod Sweeney Colonel Henry John Sweeney MC (1 June 1919 – 4 June 2001), known as Tod Sweeney, was an officer of the British Army. During the Second World War he was a platoon commander in the coup de main operation, by gliderborne troops of the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (the 52nd), on D-Day, 6 June 1944, tasked to seize Horsa Bridge and Pegasus Bridge before the main assault on the Normandy beaches began. The following day he was awarded the Military Cross for rescuing a wounded member of his platoon while under heavy fire near Escoville.
This movie will for the first time depict in detail this crucial and successful operation that paved the way for the successful invasion of France and will show why it has been said that: “On the dawn of the greatest invasion in our time, the fate of thousands would depend upon 181 men”
Petherbridge Bassra is proud to be associated with this movie.
Sarah Batty, Partner, represented B who was charged with a large scale benefit fraud. The prosecution alleged her gain to be in the region of £114,000 following false benefit claims made over some 8 years.
Having finally admitting her guilt on the day of trial, defence Counsel was able to successfully obtain a Goodyear Direction such that B would not receive an immediate custodial sentence. Nor did her conviction result in a Confiscation Order being imposed.
Not Guilty of Serious Fraud
Ben Jones, Partner, was instructed by M when he faced serious fraud charges before the Bradford Crown Court.
The case concerned a fraud carried out upon a firm of conveyancing solicitors, whose computer system was hacked into by some means; as a result a payment in excess of £150,000 which was intended for a client of the firm was in fact sent to a fraudsters account. The money was then layered in accounts across the country. Our client was charged with 6 others as being an instrumental player in the fraud.
The case was dramatically halted on the fifth day of trial when Ben Jones uncovered vital evidence about an address in the case that was said to be controlled by our client. Following meticulous investigative work in tracing home occupiers, landlords, letting agents and web research, it was discovered that an uncharged convicted fraudster had control of the address at the pertinent time. Also, the prosecution hand writing expert was challenged and this evidence was weakened. This casting significant doubt over the prosecution allegations and supporting our clients defence.
The prosecution case began to unravel and eventually they were forced to concede that the only option available to the court was to direct the jury to return not guilty verdicts. This was a result that was achieved by proactive defence work that many firms simply would not have undertaken. Our extensive knowledge of defending fraud cases allowed us to attack the pertinent issues in the case as and when they arose, which in this case was on day 5 of the trial.
John Bottomley 5-0
The first 5 trials conducted on behalf of Petherbridge Bassra have resulted in acquittals.
In the first case the Defendant was charged with Affray, he disputed his actions amounted to affray and was acquitted.
The second was a domestic actual bodily harm where the Defendant was alleged to have assaulted his partner, he denied this and was acquitted.
The third was a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the Defendant was alleged to have assisted another who caused death by dangerous driving, the case involved a large amounts of telephone evidence, the Defendant denied the matter and was acquitted following a two week trial.
The fourth case was an allegation of arson with intent to endanger life, the Defendant had mental health issues and was deemed unfit to plead, a trial of “act taken place” was heard and the Defendant was found not to have committed the act. John then ensured that he had accommodation upon his release given he was very vulnerable.
The fifth was a charge of grievous bodily harm, the Defendant denied the allegation and asserted he was the victim, he was found not guilty in 11 minutes.
Long may the run continue.
Not Guilty of Money Laundering
Ben Jones acted for D who appeared at the Crown Court charged with money laundering.
D was stopped by the police driving a vehicle. The vehicle passenger foot well contained a black bin liner, the contents of which revealed two plastic boxes containing £133,000. The prosecution case was that this sum was criminal property, namely the concealment (the evidence showing it had previously been buried), and thereafter possession when it was moved in the vehicle. They therefore charged the defendant with money laundering. Not guilty pleas were entered and the matter proceeded to trial.
A successful application of no case to answer was made at the conclusion of the prosecution case. Not guilty verdicts were therefore recorded. The judge did not accept that the circumstances in which the property was handled give rise to the irresistible inference that the money can only be derived from crime.
Following persuasive submissions the Judge agreed that there was nothing suspicious in the way the cash was being transported. The prosecution submission that the sheer quantity of cash led to an inference of guilt was described by the Judge as “a fallacious submission”.
Sarah Barlow of Exchange Chambers was instructed as counsel for D.
Glorious Acquittal in Teeside
S was charged with numerous co-defendants in Operation Bamburgh. This was a large scale investigation, so large it was spread across various indictments and trials, which charged our client with allegations of Conspiracy to Defraud.
Ben Jones, Partner, was instructed by S to defend allegations that he had defrauded both mortgage lenders and buy and lease back vendors of property, of mortgage advances. Those allegations were vehemently denied. Vast amounts of time were spent with the client trawling through over 25,000 pages of evidence to prove his innocence and to rebut the allegations of the making of false mortgage applications, false representations to the vendors and making or facilitating false Land Registry records.
After many months of preparation, and the presentation of our detailed Defence Case Statement, the prosecution offered no evidence against our client. Formal not guilty verdicts were therefore recorded.
Mark Harries of Carmelite Chambers was instructed as counsel for S.
Petherbridge Bassra welcomes Neil Murphy to the Firm
The Family Department are pleased to welcome a new addition to their team, Neil Murphy, a Solicitor with almost 30 years’ experience joined the Department in January 2016.
Neil is a Solicitor Advocate and specialises in care proceedings. However, he is experienced in dealing with all aspects of Family Law including divorce, contact, residence of children and domestic violence injunctions.
Neil was previously a Partner in a firm in Huddersfield and has extensive experience in criminal matters having gained higher rights of audience for appearance in the Crown Court.
March 2016: Employment Law Newsletter
An update on recent employment legislation; zero hour’s contracts and the living wage. Also, an interesting unfair dismissal case that considers consistency of treatment in a misconduct dismissal.
John Bottomley, having recently joined us from Halifax has been successful in his first 2 contested trials at Bradford Crown Court
The first involved an allegation of assault and the second a complicated conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
“We have found in John a young, enthusiastic and fearless advocate who rises to the challenge” said Managing Director Ray Singh
Property Lawyer Deepak Prasaad is now in Residence
We are delighted that Property Lawyer, Deepak Prasaad has joined the practice as a consultant practicing in commercial and residential property.
Deepak, who has practiced at some of west Yorkshire’s leading law firms has a wealth of experience in all property related matters.
Deepak acts for clients ranging from national property developers to local individuals and is heading a team that will cater for all our clients property related needs.
This Charity Work certainly has Legs
Our very own Leanne Bairstow recently completed the Keighley 10K run and in doing so raised some serious funds for Manorlands Hospice, a charity close to Leanne’s and indeed many Bradfordians hearts.
In completing the notoriously gruelling hilly run she has raised the jaw dropping sum of £6,861.25 thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous benefactor.
Leanne a keen runner completed her run in a great time of 59:59 along with her daughter, husband, brother and sister in law. A real family effort!
The family were awarded the Sue Ryder award (as pictured below) for the highest group fundraising.
Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors Ltd welcomes Sarah Guttman
Petherbridge Bassra are pleased to announce that Miss Sarah Guttman became a Director of Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors in January 2016 where she will run the firms Magistrates Court department. Sarah attends at the Magistrates and Crown Courts on a daily basis to represent her clients. Sarah is known for her dedicated client care skills and her aptitude and confidence in court. She was awarded the Cawthorn Memorial Prize for Young Solicitor of the Year in recognition of this.
Managing Director Ray Singh said of the appointment “We are delighted to welcome Sarah as a director. She is a talented advocate and very well thought of by clients and colleagues alike.”
Running Up the Donations
Tariq Hussain, a partner in the criminal department, was tired of piling on the pounds whilst running up and down the country’s motorways servicing his many clients in courts across the land. He therefore decided to embark on a strict fitness programme that cut out the service station food and involved him running up and down the city’s streets in his spare time.
In building up his fitness Tariq has embarked on a number of runs for various charities which culminated in him recording a personal best at the Bradford 10k event this weekend gone. On this occasion he was running for Epilepsy Action and recorded a brilliant time of 52 minutes and 28 seconds. At the same time raising much needed funds for a great charity.
Our very own Forrest Gump isn’t stopping there though. He intends to enrol in a number of up and coming events and will always run for a charity close to his heart.
Ben Jones provides assistance in Amsterdam
Ben Jones, Partner, was instructed to travel to Amsterdam to assist a client who was remanded into custody facing allegations of people trafficking. A three day visit resulted in attendances upon the instructed Dutch lawyer, and a visit to a female Dutch prison.
Following the attendances detailed reports were prepared for the detainees family and we agreed to act as a United Kingdom based agent to aid liaison between the UK based family and the Dutch lawyer. This providing a great deal of relief to both the family and detained person in The Netherlands.