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A police vehicle drives past the London Police Headquarters in London, Ont. on Jan. 24Geoff Robins/The Globe and Mail

Experts say the London Police Service’s decision to give five members of the 2018 world junior hockey team time to surrender before facing charges is a common practice for many criminal investigations.

The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that the players, who have not been named, have been told to surrender ahead of sexual-assault charges by later next week.

This is a routine police practice in cases where suspects are not seen to be threats to the wider public, experts say. And compared with police-initiated arrests that play out in public, having suspects turn themselves in can be a safer process for everyone involved.

“You do it in public, who knows how someone is going to react? You do it in someone’s home and the dangers go up,” said Michael Nesbitt, a law professor at the University of Calgary. “So it’s better that someone go in.”

The expected charges against the players are related to a Hockey Canada fundraising gala in June, 2018, after which a woman accused the players of sexually assaulting her. A lawsuit related to the allegations was settled years ago, but they have also been the subject of a parallel criminal investigation.

London police have declined to comment on the forthcoming charges and would only say the force anticipates it will hold a news conference in about two weeks.

Defence lawyers who are not involved in the Hockey Canada case say detectives often put people on notice that they need to come to a police station to face charges, but have a week or two to do so.

“That’s not unusual at all,” said Toronto lawyer Reid Rusonik. He said police give out grace periods to make the charging process as smooth as it can be for everyone involved. “A lot of cops, you know, want an easy time of it, and a safe time of it.”

Police will often warn suspects that officers will be sent out looking for them if deadlines are not met, said Mr. Rusonik.

But he added that suspects who turn themselves in to face charges can often be released on simple undertakings, or promises, that they will appear in court at future dates. And if that happens, he said, there will be two immediate appearances that are required.

“One is for court itself – your first appearance in court,” he said. “But prior to that you have to attend for fingerprints and photographs.”

Next can come bail hearings, but Mr. Rusonik added that the people who voluntarily present themselves to police are often in a position to convince the courts they are not flight risks – which increases their chances of never being detained before trial.

For months afterward, lawyers acting for an accused can advance defence arguments in pretrial phases of criminal court proceedings. When suspects plan to plead not guilty to offences, their trials may occur months or even several years after charges were first laid.

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