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Released under investigation

Have you been interviewed by the police and Released under Investigation (RUI)?

Once you have been arrested and interviewed under caution, the police have two options if they intend to continue investigating the alleged offence. They may place a suspect on bail, either conditionally or unconditionally, or release the suspect under investigation.

What does ‘released under investigation’ mean? 

If you have been released under investigation, it means that the police are continuing to investigate the alleged criminal offence. There are no time limits the police will set for the investigation. There are also no conditions which you must follow, unlike being placed on bail. Often released under investigation is referred to as being RUI’d.

How long will the investigation last?

The police can continue investigating the offence for an unlimited time. The police may contact you to conduct a further interview and in certain circumstances, they may still be able to arrest you again. It is difficult to provide a timescale as to the length of the investigation. Some matters can conclude in a matter of weeks but more serious or complex matters can continue for many months. In cases involving the forensic analysis of an electronic device, it is not unusual for investigations to last in excess of twelve months.

You do not have any requirement to return to the police station but the investigation is still ongoing.

What will the police do during the investigation?

The police, when investigating, may seize your personal property or electronic devices such as phones and laptops in order to forensically analyse them. Click here to read more. There are lengthy backlogs with analysis of electronic devices and this can cause further delays in the investigation.

You may be released under investigation for any offence, regardless of severity and regardless of whether you are under 18.

What is the difference between police bail and being released under investigation?

Police bail (sometimes known as pre-charge bail)  is used by the police to release suspects from custody when the police intend to impose certain conditions to which you must adhere. The police may only place you on bail for three months initially before either making a charging decision or applying to extend your bail.

The police may place someone on conditional bail if they have concerns that the suspect may commit another offence, fail to attend court or a police station when asked or attempt to pervert the course of justice such as intimidating a witness.

Usual conditions can include a condition of residence to live and sleep at a particular address, non-contact with the complainant(s) (usually directly or indirectly), non-contact with under 18s, not to go within a certain distance of an address or place, non-contact with co-defendants and a curfew to remain at home during particular hours. To read more on Pre-Charge Bail and have your questions answered, click here.

Can I go on holiday if I have been released under investigation? 

There are no conditions to your release meaning that you are able to travel abroad and go on holiday. However, it may be advisable that you contact the investigating officers to inform them of your travel plans in case there are updates to the investigation.

Does released under investigation show on a DBS Check?

If you have been released under investigation this will not show on a basic or standard DBS Check. There is potential for it to show on an enhanced DBS Check.

The situation is that when someone is applying for an enhanced DBS check, any information can be disclosed in the ‘other information’ section. This is at the discretion of the police. It depends on various factors including the relevance to the offence, whether it is proportionate to disclose, and various other matters. It is also to a certain extent dependent upon how long it has been since the arrest.

The usual position is that if the police are considering disclosing the information then they write to the applicant to afford them the opportunity to make representations as to why the information should not be disclosed. The police do not have to do this but in the majority of situations where an investigation is finalised and it would not prejudice anyone to afford the opportunity to make representations then the police would invite them to make representations. For more information please contact our DBS department.

Why does a police investigation take so long?

During a police investigation, there are frequently many enquiries for the police to undertake. Forensic analysis of electronic devices can lead to lengthy delays. The police may need to make enquiries to seize and retain CCTV evidence as well as making various requests from third parties. They may need to trace and take statements from witnesses as well as take additional statements of the complainant. Timings may also be impacted by the priority of the case, the workload of the investigating officers and they also often need to liaise with more senior officers and the Crown Prosecution Service.

What happens after a police investigation?

At the conclusion of a police investigation, the police can choose to close the case with no further action. This is often referred to as being NFA’d. Alternatively, if a decision has been made to prosecute then the police will send a postal requisition to your home address. This is a formal letter requiring you to attend court on a certain date in relation to the charges.

What is the time limit for CPS to make a decision?

Once the police consider that they have enough evidence they will pass the file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). They will review the evidence and consider whether they can bring a prosecution. Every case is different and there is no definitive answer to this question. Some cases may be relatively straightforward but other cases may have a large volume of evidence to consider or legal issues to resolve. In some cases, the CPS may consider whether there is any more evidence the police could gather.  If the CPS believe further police investigation is required,  they will ask the police to continue their investigation and then revert back to them for a charging decision.

The criticisms of ‘released under investigation’

Where the police do not have a timeframe for an investigation to happen, as bail provides, the investigation may continue for any length of time. The length of an investigation may depend on many factors including how complex the case is and how the police prioritise their investigations.

However, this is difficult for both suspects and alleged victims involved. It can be very frustrating and stressful to experience being released under investigation as it gives no clear timeframe or sets dates for which the police can make decisions.

The difficulty of waiting for a decision to be made, with no certainty as to when it will be made, can be extremely distressing.

There is no date to work towards. A suspect’s life is on hold. They do not know when the investigation will be completed, when property will be returned, they may be unable to return to the family home, worried about publicity, unsure as to whether they can apply for a job.

The uncertainty and anxiety of being under investigation places a huge burden upon someone despite the fact that no charges have even been brought.

Can I take a proactive approach?

This is the point at which a suspect needs to consider what proactive steps should be taken on their behalf. This is where the choice of defence legal team is so important.

It is particularly important that defence teams give thought to early ‘pre-charge engagement’ with investigating officers. This is not a new concept, and at Olliers we have always looked to engage with investigators throughout an investigation. However, the term is now formally recognised (see below).

Watch Matthew Claughton discussing how Olliers Solicitors can help you if you have been released under investigation

At Olliers we’re frequently contacted by clients who’ve been questioned by the police and then released under investigation and they come to us not really knowing what’s going to happen next. This is the opportunity for them to take control of the situation. Are there witnesses who can support their version of events? Can they in any other way disprove what the police were alleging in interview?

Is their social media or Internet research that can be undertaken on their behalf? Alternatively other messages or electronic communication that can be presented to the police to support their case. At Olliers we will always look to make representations to the police as to why our clients should not be charged with a criminal offence. The message is don’t sit back .If there are proactive steps that can be taken on behalf of our clients we will always take them.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 brought about changes to the use of police bail. These changes came into force on the 28th October 2022 and apply to suspects detained on or after this date.

The key changes are as follows:

The presumption against pre-charge bail was withdrawn

This means that each case is decided by the Custody Officer on its own merits without any presumption for or against bail. If bail is granted, the Custody Officer can impose conditions. The onus is on the police to show conditions are necessary.

The Custody Officer needs to seek and consider, if practical to do so, the views of the alleged victim (if any) before imposing conditions that may have an impact on the alleged victim. This will also be a consideration if the suspect or police are applying to vary conditions.

Time limit for suspects being released on pre-charge bail was extended

The initial time limit for suspects being released on pre-charge bail has been extended from 28 days to 3 months.  There are now two further extensions available. Approval from an Inspector or above will be needed for an extension from 3 to 6 months and approval from Superintendent or above for any extension from 6 to 9 months. If the police require more than 9 months an application must be made to the Magistrates’ Court for Judicial approval.

Challenge to terms of conditions of bail may be made to the Magistrates’ Court at any time

A challenge to the decision to impose bail or not or to withdraw bail (before the 9 month period) should be made to the Administrative Court by judicial review

What effect is this having on time scales for police investigations?

It does not appear that the time limit for investigations is being affected by these new provisions as there is still no upper time limit imposed.  Indeed, it may be that more suspects are being released on pre-charge bail rather than released under investigation. This means more people subject to bail conditions and these conditions will last for longer than previously.

In turn, the ‘clock’ for police bail stops when the police refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a charging decision. There is also no time limit for this period of review by the CPS meaning that investigations can continue for a lengthy time and suspects will continue to be subject to bail conditions.

How can Olliers Solicitors help me?

The investigations team at Olliers focus on a front footed, proactive approach which involves early police contact. We look at all potential avenues of investigation and defence lines of enquiry. We also seek to participate in pre-charge engagement in appropriate cases.

Our ‘Investigations page contains a number of case studies which illustrate what we have been able to achieve.

Some frequently asked questions 

What is the difference between being released on bail and released under investigation?

If you are released on bail you are no longer held in custody, however certain conditions are placed on you upon release. These conditions may include restrictions on persons you may contact or a fixed address at which you must stay.

Alternatively, you may be released under investigation, this is where the police suspect you of committing a criminal offence but do not have sufficient evidence to meet the charging standard. As they cannot charge you they must release you, whilst they investigate the matter further.

If I am released under investigation do I have any bail conditions?

If you are released on under investigation, you are not subject to the conditions that may be placed on you if you are released on bail. You are not required to attend the police again whilst released under investigation.

This can leave you in limbo and not receive any update for an indefinite period.

If contacted by the police what should I do?

If you are contacted by the police, please contact Olliers solicitors immediately and we can provide clear guidance of the process of what will happen next. Our vastly experienced solicitors are able available to assist you throughout your case and the police investigations.

How long will the investigation take?

You will be informed about the result of the investigations into you eventually but there is no specific timeframe for how long this could take.

This can cause significant anxiety and stress as the police do not have any time limits on how long they can investigate you for. It will depend on the complexities of the matter including the police obtaining witness statements. If the case is less serious you may expect to hear from the police within a few months but in more serious or complex cases it could take multiple months or possibly up to a year or longer.

At Olliers solicitors, we make frequent contact with the police, and continue to ask for the police to provide us updates on their investigations.

Can the police keep my property during the investigation?

The police are able to seize your belongings to use as potential evidence to assist in their investigations. The police are able to keep your property for the duration of their analysis of that particular item or for the duration of their overall investigation into you, should they require to.

If you instruct Olliers Solicitors we will make frequent contact with the police in order to try to have your belongings returned to you, or determine if the police do not intend to return your property imminently.

Can I travel abroad if I am released under investigation?

There is nothing preventing you from travelling abroad whilst under investigation. However, it is advisable to make the police aware if you plan to leave the country. If you fail to inform the police and are abroad for a significant period you may miss important correspondence from the police. If you instruct Olliers solicitors we can contact the police on your behalf to inform them that you will be abroad.

How does it take for electronic devices to be forensically analysed?

There are no clear limits for how long they may keep your property. The police may require to send your property to be forensically tested. The items that may be seized could include mobile phones, laptops, documentation, vehicles or clothing.

Why have I been released under investigation?

Generally, following interview, the police are not able to charge you, but are not willing to disregard you as a suspect, and want more time. Therefore, you are no longer held in custody and not subject to bail conditions.

What happens when the investigation ends?

The police will contact your to provide you with results of their investigation. You will either receive a summons to attend court or receive a no further action.

I would like Olliers to represent me, however I had another solicitor for my initial interview. What can I do?

Should you want to change your representation to Olliers, you can instruct us to act for you. We will contact your previous solicitor to obtain the required information to represent you.

Contact our Investigations solicitors

If you would like to discuss how we can proactively assist you in relation to your case at the pre-charge stage, contact Ruth Peters by telephone on 0161 834 1515, by email to info@olliers.com or complete the form below and we will contact you.

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Case Studies

Case Study One
21-year-old male of good character faced allegation of date rape in which the complainant claimed to have been unconscious for ten hours. Olliers were able to prove social media activity throughout the night and downloading of an app together with text activity from the alleged victim the following day. Olliers also provided police with details of a flatmate who witnessed sexual activity. Police were also provided with a motive for the fabricated complaint. Following representations to the police, matter came to a swift conclusion without even going to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision.

Case Study Two
Young man faced allegation of sexual assault in a nightclub. It was suggested that he had assaulted a complete stranger without any earlier interaction. Olliers were able to show that alleged victim had in fact connected with the suspect on WhatsApp at the time of the incident which would have been impossible on her version of events. Olliers were also able to show that complainant’s boyfriend had unexpectedly arrived in the nightclub which gave an explanation and motive for the false allegation. No charges were brought.

Case Study Three
Client faced an allegation of historic rape based upon one incident thirty years earlier. Olliers were able to produce to the police a poem sent to the defendant by the complainant ten years previously i.e. twenty years after the alleged incident in which she admitted to her infatuation with the suspect at the time of the incident. Representations were made including a defence explanation for the allegations being made.  Crown Prosecution Service took the view that there was not a realistic prospect of conviction and no charges were brought.

Case Study Four
Client  was arrested and interviewed under caution in connection with historic allegations of rape. He was subsequently released under investigation pending further police enquiries. On contacting Olliers, we immediately adopted a proactive approach and established contact with both the officer in the case and the duty solicitor who had represented the client at the police station. Following detailed consideration of the police station notes, and on taking thorough instructions from our client, we drafted representations against charge on his behalf. The aim of our representations was to persuade the Crown Prosecution Service that there was ‘not a realistic prospect of conviction’ as required by the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The police investigation was ongoing for some time and we periodically liaised with the investigating officer to provide the client with updates. Having considered our representations, the police decided to take no further action against our client and the matter came to a close.

Case Study Five
Our client was arrested and interviewed under caution in relation to historic allegations of rape, sexual assault and controlling or coercive behaviour. He was subsequently released under investigation pending further police enquiries. The client contacted Olliers shortly after his arrest. Following this, we obtained the case papers from the duty solicitor who had represented him during interview. We also established contact with the investigating officer and drew their attention to some initial points about the case which would require further investigation. As the investigation developed, we drafted comprehensive representations against charge based on our client’s detailed instructions and relevant material he had provided. On considering our representations, the police decided to take no further action against our client and the matter was concluded.

Case Study Six
Our clients were directors of a payment processing company. This was a multi-jurisdictional investigation involving restraint of assets on several continents. Extensive police liaison took place, a substantial amount of exculpatory material was provided to the police. Complex and ultimately successful applications to vary and discharge restraint orders were made. Representations against charge were submitted. The matter concluded following a successful application under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 for return of items unlawfully seized by police and decision was made to take no further action against our clients.

Case Study Seven
Client E was arrested and interviewed under caution concerning allegations of rape and sexual assault. He was released under investigation as the police continued with their enquiries. Client E contacted Olliers only a few days following his arrest to request pre-charge representation. We swiftly proceeded to make contact with the investigating officer to establish a line of communication. We also quickly obtained the case papers from the duty solicitor whom represented Client E at the police station. For the following five months, we maintained contact with the investigating officer and regularly liaised with them regarding bail requirements and the progress of their investigation. After in-depth consideration of the police station notes and all of the information and instructions provided by the client, we disclosed some material to the investigating officer concerning the allegations. Following review by the police and consideration of their lines of enquiry, a decision to take no further action was reached thereby concluding the investigation.

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