How long can Vic police hold a suspect?

·2-min read

As the Victorian man arrested over the disappearance of two campers spends another day in custody without charge, its thrown attention to a little-discussed law on how long suspects can be held.

The 55-year-old Caroline Springs man has been held in custody since Monday, questioned about missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay, who vanished in the Victorian Alps in March last year.

On Thursday, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said there was no "urgency" to lay charges against him as a person can be detained for "a reasonable time" under the Crimes Act.

The act does not give a specific time limit and sets out a range of circumstances that factor into what constitutes a "reasonable time", including:

* The number and complexity of offences to be investigated

* Any time taken to visit a crime scene

* Any time taken to speak with a legal practitioner

* Any time questioning or investigation is suspended or delayed to allow the suspect to receive medical attention or rest

* The total time the person has been with an investigating official before and after arrest

Mr Patton said the case was "one of the most complex investigations" he has been briefed on.

"Ultimately, it's up to homicide investigators, or in this case the missing person's squad to, if you like, justify and log what they've done over a period time. Because a court then determines whether that is reasonable time," Mr Patton told 3AW.

While noting he did not know the circumstances of the case and made no comment about the merit of police actions, Liberty Victoria President Michael Stanton said considerations went beyond the Crimes Act.

"The Charter of Human Rights requires that a person arrested or detained on a criminal charge be 'promptly' brought before a court," he said in a statement to AAP.

"Victoria Police officers are public authorities and are bound to act compatibly with the human rights protected by the charter, with a narrow exception where they could not reasonably have acted differently or made a different decision."

In NSW, police are only able to detain someone without charge for six hours unless suspected of terrorism offences or granted a one-off six-hour extension through a detention warrant.

However, a number of custody "time-outs" can lead to people spending longer than 12 hours under arrest before being released.

Those arrested in Queensland can be held without charge for up to eight hours over serious offences such as murder, rape and robbery, and questioned for four of those hours.

But again that period can be extended to 12 hours via a court order.

The maximum time in South Australia is four hours for serious offences and up to eight if agreed to by a magistrate, while Western Australia and Tasmania have similar "reasonable time" clauses to Victoria.

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