Solicitor Rubin Italia acts for claimants who spent seven years ‘Released Under Investigation’ and brought an action against the Metropolitan Police.

 

Solicitor Rubin Italia was recently instructed by claimants who were under police investigation for over seven years and brought an action against the Metropolitan Police for the delay that has been caused and their failure to abide by their own policy. The Metropolitan Police settled the Claim for significant damages, the day before the case was due to be heard.

When people are arrested and then released on bail, there are two possible outcomes if they are not charged and the investigation continues.

Firstly, they may have a bail date and time to return to a police station. Secondly, they my be ‘Released Under Investigation’ (RUI) for a number of reasons. The effect of this RUI is that are no conditions of bail but there is also no end date or time given. Any person being investigated has to ensure either that the police provide regular updates, which should be every 28 days, or that their representatives are able to chase them.

In this case that Rubin had conduct over, the clients were investigated over 7 years ago. Whilst the investigation was in its infancy, there was good communication with officers and, in such matters, it can be reasonable to expect the need for a lengthy investigation.

However, as time dragged and the responses from the officers dried up so did the clients’ patience.

Significant complaints were made to officers and other authorities – a process that took the police many months to resolve. The upshot of this was that, although there was some acknowledgement of the delay, there were unsatisfactory responses. A further complaint was made to the Independent Office of Police Complaints, which took over 12 months to respond but upheld all the complaints.

In the interim there had been no movement on the progress of the investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) . After reaching a tipping point, both claimants decided to challenge the delay by judicial review.

Even after proceedings were issued there was no immediate improvement or issue of a settlement,  despite the  MPS having no meaningful response to a delay of this magnitude, and it was only on the eve of trial that a mutually agreeable settlement was made.

The MPS agreed a significant settlement of damages and accepted that there was no meaningful explanation they could provide for having the client on bail and then RUI for over 7 years. Every Authority complained to – including the Metropolitan Police, the IOPC as well as the Single Judge within these proceedings – highlighted significant deficiencies regarding these issues.

Speaking on this case, Rubin commented: “This was a woeful attempt by the Police to investigate two innocent people. The Metropolitan Police accepted that there was no meaningful explanation they could provide for the client being on bail for over seven years. The significant real-world consequences of such delays cannot be overstated.

“The public’s faith in policing is at an all-time low for many reasons including serious police misconduct. Added to the mix are the delays in completing investigations in a timely manner.

“Individuals can remain RUI due to a number of factors, however this case – and many others like it – raise serious concerns as to whether the regime allows the authorities to inculcate delay into an investigation. Without a serious review of the legislative framework, RUI will remain and cases such as these will continue to come before the courts.

“Those who remain on RUI often do so for several reasons. However, RUI allows the investigatory authorities to inculcate delay into an investigation. The Bail to Return regime which should focus minds on dates, times and actions should allow all parties the certainty of some finality, compared to an RUI with no end date or time. Without a review of the legislative framework, RUI will remain and cases such as these will continue to come before the courts.

“In the words of Elias LJ, in the seminal authority of Visvartnam v Brent MC, ‘Delays are scandalous. They bring the law into disrepute’.”

Philip Rule KC from No.5 Chambers was instructed as counsel. He says in respect of the issues flagged by the case:

“This was a very troubling case given the very lengthy delay and the persistent failure to comply with the policy governing RUI which is intended to encourage expedition and to monitor and correct delay. The internal police complaint investigation found that the problem was not one limited to this case, but a Metropolitan Police Service wide failure to implement or understand the need for Expected Finish Dates to be maintained and reviewed, and suspects updated, on a regular basis. Until this problem is fixed in the system more people will suffer undue delays whether the suspect, or indirectly the victim of any genuine crime, both of whom may wait for resolution and remain in a state of uncertainty for far longer than is reasonable”

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