Too many suspects are being released under investigation, giving violent offenders ‘carte blanche to reoffend’, the Criminal Bar Association has warned.

In her weekly message, chair of the CBA Caroline Goodwin QC said the release under investigation (RUI) system is being ‘abused’ and ‘does not protect the public from harm’.

‘RUI is regularly being used for reported serious crimes and yet suspects are being released back into the public without any of the restrictions that apply to bail,’ she said.

Suspects released under investigation have not been charged, but can be subjected to inquiries lasting several years. In 2017-18, 193,073 people were released under investigation, according to police figures published under the Freedom of Information Act

Goodwin said the RUI ‘scandal’ means that ‘those who may have committed reported crimes, and yet not charged but just let out without any judicial control may well feel they can just “get away with it”.

‘Those who maintain their innocence, may well be left with their reputations in pieces as they wait for what feels like an indefinite period to clear their name, unsure if charges will even be brought.’

Citing falling prosecution rates and a rise in crime, Goodwin said: ‘Political chuntering about being serious on crime starts at the grass roots, it does not start as an attractive strap line for an ambitious politician who sees the “get tough” line as a vote winner. If you want success you need to invest. Action not words are required.’

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech placed crime and justice policies at the forefront of the government agenda. The speech pledged to ‘transform’ the approach of the justice system to victims of domestic abuse through the new Domestic Abuse Bill and set out plans to introduce new sentencing laws that will see the most serious offenders spend longer in custody.