A Times article today has reported that police have drastically reduced use of bail conditions on men accused of rape and domestic abuse. Suspects are instead being interviewed under ‘voluntary attendance’.
Our member the Centre for Women’s Justice are compiling a ‘super complaint’ in relation to this practise and the ongoing risk posed by these individuals. Nogah Ofer, a lawyer from the Centre for Women’s Justice states:
“The norm is for interview on voluntary attendance, rather than arrest, across the board on domestic violence and rape. From the perspective of victims and survivors, it is almost like the accused is being invited in for a chat and is not really a suspect.
“It used to be absolutely standard in every rape case that the suspect had bail conditions not to contact the victim, and not to go to her address. But now it is just easier for the police not to use bail. The whole reason for bail reform was to speed up investigations but in fact it has had the opposite effect.”
The changes to bail were enacted as a result of high profile men who had been accused of rape and subsequently campaigned for changes. Current practise and use of voluntary attendance were described as a “shortcut” by Martyn Underhill, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.
This is further evidence of the widespread failures to appropriately respond to sexual violence and domestic abuse and the need for an end to end review of the criminal justice system.