Sir George Young, leader of the House of Commons, announced on Monday 4 July 2011 that the House of Commons will vote tomorrow (Thursday 7 July 2011) on emergency legislation to reverse the judgment handed down on 19 May 2011 in the case of R (Greater Manchester Police) v Salford Magistrates’ Court & Anor [2011] EWHC 1578.

The decision sparked controversy among police and government officials alike as it went against 25 years of police practice in holding that time spent on police bail now counts towards the maximum 96 hour pre-charge detention limit. The effect of this is that, once arrested, a suspect must now be charged within 96 hours or new evidence must be found in order to re-arrest or continue the questioning of the suspect.  Previously the suspect could be released on police bail and called in at a later date to continue questioning at which point the 96 hour time limit would be re-engaged.

The emergency legislation will be rushed through the House of Commons after Ministers told MPs that waiting for the appeal to be heard by the UK Supreme Court (currently set for 25 July 2011) would take too long.  As the shadow Commons leader, Hilary Benn, commented,

it has taken Home Office Ministers far too long – six weeks – to respond to the court judgment which was originally given on May 19, and the result has been a complete mess with doubt about the enforcement of bail conditions“.

On 1 July 2011, Greater Manchester Police filed an application asking the Supreme Court to stay the effect of the High Court’s judgment. However the Supreme Court dismissed the application.

EDIT: this post contains links to the emergency legislation, and its progress through parliament.

Ed Cook is a law student currently on a vacation placement at Olswang LLP.