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Police and Court Bail

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 25 Nov 2017 |
Bail Court Police Charge Criminal

If a police investigation is ongoing into alleged criminal activity, you may be bailed to return to the police station on a future date. Once you have been charged with a criminal offence, the police are required to release you on bail unless one of the following applies:

  • the police have doubts about your identity or address, or
  • you need to be detained for your own, or someone else’s, protection
  • there are concerns that you will fail to attend court, or interfere with the administration of justice (e.g. by contacting witnesses)

Bail Offences

If you are released on police bail and do not return on the date and at the time required, you may be charged with a separate criminal offence. This is called ‘failure to surrender’ and whilst you may not think that the actual penalty given for this offence is particularly serious, it does count as a ‘breach of trust’. Breaches of trust on a person’s criminal record may affect your ability to get bail if you are ever charged with an offence in the future.

Bail Conditions

Your bail from the police station may be conditional or unconditional. If there are conditions attached to your bail, you may for example be told that you have to reside at a specific address, report to a local police station, stay inside your house at certain hours of the day, not contact certain people or go to certain places, or provide a surety (a sum of money that you may lose if you fail to attend court.) You may also be told to surrender your passport.

If you breach any of these conditions, you may be arrested and brought before the magistrates court. You may be charged under the Bail Act 1976 and could also be remanded in custody until your trial.

While on police bail you can apply at the magistrates court to vary the conditions of the bail, although there is no guarantee that the court will allow such variations.

Court Bail

Once you appear before the magistrates court, you can apply to vary your conditions. If you have been remanded in police custody, you can apply for bail at your hearing before the magistrates court. The court may grant you bail, may allow you bail with conditions, or refuse bail and remand you in custody.

If you have not been convicted of any offence, you have a right to be granted bail unless certain exceptions apply. If the court thinks that you are likely to fail to attend court, interfere with witnesses or may commit further offences you will not be given bail. In determining whether any of these factors apply to you, the court will consider the nature and seriousness of the offence that you have been charged with, the strength of the evidence against you, your personal circumstances and community ties, any previous convictions and in particular any breaches of trust (such as failure to answer bail), as well as whether you have any other outstanding charges or are currently serving any other sentence. From April 2017, the maximum limit a person can spend on bail is 28 days. An extension of up to three months may be granted by a senior officer. For any further extension, an application will need to be made to a magistrate.


If the court decides that it is appropriate it can attach certain conditions to your bail so as to ensure, as far as possible that you return when you are supposed to. If you are asked to provide a surety, this is a sum of money – which you or someone else puts up on your behalf – that may have to be forfeit if you fail to surrender to bail. There is no need to pay this money to the court when you get bail, but you have to show that it is available if needed.

Re-Applying For Bail

You have two chances to apply for bail at the magistrates court, or if there is a change in your circumstances. If this fails, you can apply for bail again at the crown court, known as ‘judge in chambers.’ You can also go to the High Court but this is rare.

If you do not get bail, there are limits on the amount of time you can spend in custody without the prosecution having to apply for an extension. These are:

  • Magistrates court trials -56 days
  • Crown court committals – 70 days
  • Crown court committal to trial – 112 days

Any extension must be fully justified by the prosecution in order to be granted by the court. You can find out more about what happens the first time you appear in court here.

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Rite I got 2nd judge and chambers for aggravated buglery they let me out on tag until septemeber went to court ajounerd until June but since then I've appeared in court 2wice for breich ov my tag and lastnite but I haven't broke it since they bailed me 2weeks ago untill last night for half a hour will the police arrest me for just 1 half hour breich? And do you rekon I will go to jail for it this time until June
Biggman - 25-Nov-17 @ 12:48 PM
My partner was out on lience he had 3 months left and we got into a fight.He got charged threats too kill.out on bail.3 days later police have put him too jail as courts balls up didn't realise his lience . His bail was no contact with me does tht mean I can't visit him in jail . I've with drew my statement as we want too be together??
Jj - 27-Sep-17 @ 10:22 PM
My partner (ex) is out on bail ,he ain't allowed any contact with me,but he has been txting me,so he broke his bail,but I have txted him bk ,if I report him will I get done aswell
sweetpea - 31-Aug-17 @ 12:13 PM
@Lois - NOT the most sensible of ideas! Time inside is not worth the risk for a week away.
LawMan - 24-Aug-17 @ 1:39 PM
My boyfriend is on bail and on an electronic tag he is thinking of cutting it off and go on holiday. Will he get arrested in the airport on the way back into the uk
Lois - 23-Aug-17 @ 10:31 PM
My husband has been given found guilty by a jury of sexual assault which never took place nor did our soliciter and barrister help much my husbands character is clean no charges whatsoever he's been a public servant for the past 20 years I hav 3 children we are happily married I want justice where do I go I'm a British citizen my husbands innocent we've given all the evidence to the court but was turned a blind eye this was my husbands re trial in the first trial there was a hung jury who couldn't decide their verdict who took all day and this time round the jury only took 15 minutes to decide in the jury there were 11 females all of young age a few most of the time asleep during the court and male in the jury in the last jury in first trial there were half male half female when I told my barrister about this they that's how it is and also he said we can't tell this jury that this is a re trial
Sana - 20-Aug-17 @ 9:29 AM
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Professor Love Maker - 5-Jun-17 @ 2:19 PM
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Ben Sharp - 5-Jun-17 @ 2:15 PM
how much is that then I have money lots of it
DJconnor - 5-Jun-17 @ 2:14 PM
I'll give you as much love as you need for the right price of course.
Jizlespie - 5-Jun-17 @ 2:12 PM
I need love help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DJconnor - 5-Jun-17 @ 2:10 PM
My boyfriend got into a fight on the street in front of many people with a lad, it was provoked as the lad was saying he was going get someone kidnap my boyfriend and stab him so my boyfriend lost it and hit him and then left, this was over a month ago and now the police have rang his parents asking him if he can go down the station and answer some questions because they couldn't get hold of him on his new number. What will happen to him? We are supposed to go away on Friday
Paris - 3-Jun-17 @ 10:05 AM
My b/f was charged with assault (accidentally hit me with his phone in an argument) police was called & charged him, I told them I didn't want to press charges but they did anyway. We are due to go on holiday & he's on bail conditions to stay away from me, we requested an urgent bail hearing to have these removed & heard nothing back. What do we do??
Nic - 19-May-17 @ 3:19 PM
Hi can you go away to spain when on bail for fraud even tho you be bk in time and all you bail conditions are not to contact the person taking you to court .
Manchester - 16-May-17 @ 3:04 PM
I got arrested on the 18th of march for growing canabis for personal use but have been released saying no further action but ongoing.Not been charged so can they keep are passports. And how long until they can decide Wetherby to charge you
Annalisa24 - 17-Apr-17 @ 2:42 AM
i am on bail from the j p with no conditionsbut the police are looking for me . they want to charge me for a different thing will they keep me in till court the next day .
cg - 23-Mar-17 @ 7:29 PM
I helped someone rent a property - my name was on the lease. My family live in Malaysia - while I was a way a neighbour emailed me to say the police had raided my house and had left a note on the kitchen table to say that they searched my house in connection with: Controlling prostitution, Money laundering trafficking car hire immigration offences. they had removed a pc and a laptop I came home immediately - met the police on 7/11/2016 - was bailed until 7/02/2017 I went back to Malaysia returned on the 5/02/2017 for the meeting - but was the told that the bail date had been changed to 15/03/2017 - so went back to Malaysia - got back 11/03/2017 for the bail meeting - got to police station but was then told bail date had been put back to the 9/05/2017. I think the policedont have anyone available to check the computer. - but how long can this go on for - I have not been formally charged - no trial - yet my life is in Limbo while the police sort themselves out - it really is an abuse of power.
Michael - 16-Mar-17 @ 11:49 AM
I am on court bail to stay at my sister's, she has just text me to say that I am not welcome. Can she refuse me? I can't get hold of my solicitor as he is closed, I can stay at a friend's will I be arrested
TS - 14-Feb-17 @ 7:18 PM
Hi there so I was arrested on the 23/12/16 I was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon ( I had not touched alcohol for 2 years that night I had a bottle of bundaburg rum to myself)I was released on bail and part of my agreement was to reside at my current address and to be home to present myself at the front door between the hours of 930pm - 6am, I have today finished paper work for my new house and will be moving in over the next week my first court date isn't for another month do I have to appear in court to get my address changed in my bail conditions or can I go to the local police station and inform them ?
Chefpants - 10-Feb-17 @ 6:23 PM
Hi my bf got put on police bail on the 18th January 17 to return to medway police station on the 26th Feb 17. It was his first offence for class but drugs nd his first arrest for anything like this. Has anyone else been in this sort of situation nd know what will happen next
Sam - 3-Feb-17 @ 5:48 PM
Hi there, I was arrested around a month ago. Was refused service in a shutting kebab shop. Was moaning, said get out. I stupidly pushed him. He said (I didn't) that I spat at him and was racist (I wasn't), but I admitted to spitting on the shop window. I then went to the back of the shop which I admitted, which was cos he said he was going to stab me. He said he was scared for his lift etc in his statement that he made on the night. I then walked off, police turned up and I stupidly tried to run off and resisted arrest. I was very drunk. Just a couple of questions. I was released on pre-charge bail. The two charges were racism and common assault. My bail date has been put back by 4 weeks. Why is this normally the case? Also can the charges been changed to resisting arrest or drunken disorderly? It's first time I've ever been arrested. Didn't use duty solicitor in the morning, I know now I should have said no comment to everything. Was with my mate who got arrested to but he was released in the morn with no future charges. Also, because he made a statement on the night is it true he has to cancel pressing charges as already made a statement as opposed to wanting to press them? And also the police would convince him to press even if he didn't want to?
Callum - 23-Jan-17 @ 12:50 AM
I agreed to let a down n out ex use my address as his bail address i was put on the spot and felt sorry for him. Hours later i realise how much of a bad move this is as i cant/wont let him back in my home to live ever again.It can be bad enough when he visits. Hes homeless. I regret my decision what can i do??
Lows - 20-Jan-17 @ 1:28 AM
Hello my boyfriend has been in jail since January 14th. The cops told me if I did not press charges he could be released on Tuesday January 17th. They had told him 30 days. I am not going to press charges so I was wondering what will happen and what I can do ? I do not want him to lose his job or anything. As said before I do not want to press charges or anything and as far as I know he has not been charged with anything so can I call and ask him to be released since it has been over 24 hrs?
Tayyyy - 16-Jan-17 @ 7:01 AM
Hi I've been on bail for 4 months without charge I have to sign on at local police station 3 times a week So I have now lost my job Can I get this changed so I can get work Other wise I'm am going to end up homeless as well There will be no charges because I wasn't me But in their process I will lose everything what about incent people rights
Fibe - 15-Jan-17 @ 12:03 PM
My fiance is on bail and the police keep extending/changing the bail date. His next bail date is currently5th April 17, we are getting married on 28th April 17 and am worried they might asknow himy to sign bail or go to court etc on our wedding day? Isort he able to request that he doesn'thavetoappear on this date?
Rr - 11-Jan-17 @ 9:48 PM
I have been bailed for a serious offence with many bail conditions attached. one of my bail conditions is to sign on at my local police station between the hours of 6am-9am. I have been on bail for over 6 weeks. I was late for signing on just over half hour. this is the first time I was late. What will happen? The lady at the police station said she will write an email informing them that I have Been warned.
Imran Khan - 7-Jan-17 @ 10:01 AM
I've been on bail 18 months and charges causing a nuisance on communications they took my kids away list my job now homeless all because of this case but the police refused to come to magistrates court twice and keep refusing to come how can I get my name cleared when they won't come until then I can't have my kids back and they are taking the mick
Stinny - 4-Jan-17 @ 3:31 PM
I'm on bail to attend police station on 10th march in Manchester but moved back to Rotherham recently. Can I answer bail at my local police station or not. I'm stuck on what to do next. My bail conditions was not to contact my ex and not bailed to the address I was staying
kirk - 3-Jan-17 @ 5:17 AM
Hi I was released with bail conditions to not contact my g/f or go to her address after a passer by said I had I had struck her down which never happened her phone had just been left in a cab and she was really upset I was merely comforting her and making calls to get the phone. I live at my gfs addressand told the police I could go to my dads but now I have been put out on the streets and don't even know if my gf knows I'm on bail as she has no phone to be contacted on. I am also really concerned if she is ok as when I was taken to the station she was left in the street in the early hours of the morning. What can I do?
Jimmy - 1-Jan-17 @ 3:12 PM
Hello there I was arrested last nite reason being was about mobile phone number and two females complaining someone was making calls too them which I'm totally innocent I was released the officer is going too send report fiscal too cancel the case he said that there was nothing too worry about
Daz - 22-Dec-16 @ 1:03 AM
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