Home Office accused on bail ruling

The Home Office should have acted sooner to bring forward emergency legislation to reverse a controversial legal ruling which overturns 25 years of police practice, Labour said today

The criticism came as both ministers and the courts scrambled to address the ruling which means officers can no longer bail suspects for more than four days without either charging or releasing them.



Policing Minister Nick Herbert said emergency legislation would be brought forward to reverse the ruling and enable officers to do their jobs without "one hand tied behind their back", while the highest court in the land agreed to hear the case on July 25.



Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Home Office was "clearly in chaos".



"The Home Secretary is still failing to sort the problem," she said.



"Shocking delays and Home Office incompetence are still putting investigations at risk, and jeopardising justice for victims.



"Ministers confirmed that the Home Office has known about this for over a month yet they still haven't finished the emergency legislation, and the police still don't know what they are supposed to do with suspects today.



"That means thousands of ongoing investigations are being jeopardised right now."



She added: "The catalogue of incompetence is deeply worrying.



"A six-week delay since the initial judgment, a two-week delay since the written judgment and a week after ministers were told, the public and the police are still in the dark about what is going on.



"We cannot, must not and will not ask the police to do their work with one hand tied behind their backs."



Mr Herbert admitted that officials were told of the oral judgment in May, but its full impact only became clear when the written judgment was handed down on June 17 and ministers were alerted on June 24.



The row started when district judge Jonathan Finestein, sitting at Salford Magistrates' Court, refused a routine application from Greater Manchester Police for a warrant of further detention of murder suspect Paul Hookway on April 5.



High Court judge Mr Justice McCombe confirmed the ruling in a judicial review on May 19, which meant time spent on police bail counted towards the maximum 96-hour limit of pre-charge detention, after which Home Office officials were told about the problems.



The Supreme Court will now hear the case on July 25.



Mr Herbert told MPs: "The police believe that the judgment will have a serious impact on their ability to investigate crime.



"In some cases it will mean that suspects who would normally be released on bail are detained for longer. It is likely that in most forces there will not be enough capacity to detain everybody in police cells.



"In other cases it risks impeding the police to such an extent that the investigation will have to be stopped because the detention time has run out.



"The judgment will also affect the ability of the police to enforce bail conditions."



The emergency legislation will "clarify the position and provide assurance that the police can continue to operate on the basis they have been operating for many years", he said.



"We are also seeking further urgent advice on how to mitigate practical problems caused by the court's decision in this interim period.



"This judgment upsets a careful balance which has stood for a quarter of a century and impedes the police from doing their job. That is why it must be reversed."



The common practice in most major inquiries of releasing suspects on bail and calling them back for questioning weeks later is "pretty much a dead duck" following the ruling, police chiefs said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all