The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) sets out the length of time that a suspect can be detained in police custody after arrest before being charged or released (with or without bail).
A suspect can be detained for an initial period of up to 24 hours starting from the 'relevant time' - usually the time of arrival at a police station following arrest. This period can be extended for up to a further 12 hours on the authority of a police officer of the rank of superintendent or above, and subsequent court applications may enable the detention period to be extended to a maximum of 96 hours.
It had previously been assumed that releasing a suspect on bail effectively paused the 'detention clock', so that when the suspect answered police bail and was re-detained, the clock could then be restarted, even if the re-detention was at a point later than 96 hours after the 'relevant time'.
However, a recent High Court decision - the Hookway case - ruled that this was not the case and that the maximum 96-hour period specified in the Act runs from the relevant time and cannot be suspended and re-started.
The Bill would reverse the effect of this High Court decision.