Charging for one offence when in custody for multiple offences

21 August 2019

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

A suspect detained in custody has been arrested for multiple offences. She has been charged with one offence, but the others have not yet been finalised. The suspect has been refused bail in relation to the charged offence and remains in custody.

What happens when the custody clock runs out for the other offences? She cannot be bailed because there is no time left, so would she have to be technically released for those offences?

Answer:

Section 37 of PACE provides a custody officer with the power to detain a person at a police station for such period as is necessary to enable him to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge. This detention is subject to the limitations of the custody clock and should not exceed 24 hours. When a suspect is in custody, arrested for multiple offences, the offences share the same custody clock, even if the arrests for some of the offences are made later than the first offence - see our FAQ 'PACE - arrest for one offence then arrested for other(s) - detention clock'.

The 24 hour limit on the custody clock under section 41 of PACE only applies to detention before charge:

'41(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section and to sections 42 and 43 below, a person shall not be kept in police detention for more than 24 hours without being charged.'

Once you charge the suspect, whether for some or all of the offences, the clock stops. The suspect is still in lawful detention and the fact that the clock has stopped does not prevent you from interviewing for the other offences while the person is still in custody, awaiting court - see our FAQ 'PACE - Interview for second offence after being charged and remanded with first offence'. It doesn't matter if this time takes the person over the initial 24 hours, as the clock no longer applies.

If you need further time to investigate the further offence(s), the court can remand the suspect back to custody under section 128 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980. At this point, the authorisation for detention comes from the court, rather than the custody officer. The custody clock does not restart; you can detain the person in custody until the time at which they must be brought back before the court (which will be specified by the court).

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