Police Detention – R v Hookway

08/08/2011

Our interpretation of Police Detention and R v Hookway.

You may have read opinions on this case in relation to clients being released on Police bail or being refused charge if there is not sufficient evidence to charge immediately because the reports were suggesting that the PACE clock continues continuously from the relevant time.

Having read the case report we are of the view that the case has been misinterpreted.

Hookway was a murder suspect arrested and kept in detention for the 36 hours. The Police successfully applied for a warrant of further detention for an additional 36 hours. The warrant, as is usual, stated that the 36 hours started from the issuing of the warrant. Hookway was released with 8 hours remaining of that time and bailed to return on five separate occasions. No further evidence came to light during this time.

When Hookway returned on the sixth occasion the Police required him in custody for longer than 8 hours so applied for a further warrant. The Court stated that the Police were not entitled to do this. This was due to the 36 hours expiring 36 hours after the issuing of the original warrant. This meant that there was no time left on the clock. The application for a further warrant was accordingly refused.

We view this as a sensible judgement: the Police could have rearrested Hookway if they secured further evidence and the PACE clock would have started again. In the absence of further evidence there was no justification for his arrest and further detention. This appears to be a narrow judgement on what happens after a warrant of further detention has been issued. Prior to that the PACE clock runs as usual.

The government sought to clarify the position and have now rushed through emergency legislation. The Police (Detention and Bail) Act 2011 amends PACE to make clear that any periods spent by an arrested person on police bail shall not be counted when calculating the total period of time spent by an arrested person in police detention before charge.

So we now return to the status quo before the misinterpretation.

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