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Police and Court Bail

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 13 Sep 2020 |
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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If my boyfriend needs a bail address is it allowed at my house ?
Cj - 13-Sep-20 @ 9:42 PM
My partner is on tag to my house but it is going on a lot longer than expected and we have separated in the mean time, how do I change the address so he can leave my property
Lisa - 9-Sep-20 @ 12:30 AM
Hello I just wanted to see if anyone new the answer. My boyfriend is hopefully getting bail and using my address but I’m technically not allowed visitors where I live. But he’s using it to get bail then going straight to the housing the day he’s released. If he is released. Will I get in trouble. I’m really worried and not sure what to do. Hope someone can help. Thank you in advance :)
Izz123 - 13-Aug-20 @ 3:42 PM
What condition would mean you cannot stay overnight at any other property other than your place of permanent residence?
Idltjs - 13-Aug-20 @ 1:25 PM
My son is on bail for supposedly assaulting his fiancé she is pregnant with there baby but has 2 other kids also on child protection due to previous dv my son has only a handful of times been in trouble due to dv with his brother what will happen if proving he did it .
Worried mam - 10-Aug-20 @ 5:18 PM
Met a guy didn't no he was on bail for an on going murder case. Saw changes in him and decided to end the relationship by slowly withdrawing myself from him. He broke my windows all four double glazing while still on bail for the attempted murder trail. He has been to the police station where he has been charged on criminal damage. He has court on the 18th of September. Anyone knows wat might happen? Am so nervous.
Nini - 27-Jul-20 @ 2:36 PM
If a Bail condition is to Not Reside overnight at Home address, does that include any building within boundaries/footprint of the property address. I work for an agency that advises those U/Investigation & on Police Conditional Bail but can’t get a confirmed answer to this question as yet! It’s always been my understanding that this includes any and all buildings within footprint of address!
Adek - 17-Jul-20 @ 11:08 PM
My son is on bail for harassing his girlfriend who had him arrested to get him out of the home so she could move new boyfriend in.. this was in March, they have extended his bail every month and today it's been extended again until 1st August as cops still haven't made a decision..... can they do this???
Tiggs - 15-Jul-20 @ 11:03 AM
I just ordered a Photobox and didn’t check my address.I am no allowed to my old address and the pictures will upset the person if they open it.I have contacted photobox but they are closed.Will I get into trouble
JP - 21-Jun-20 @ 11:11 AM
My ex partner has breached her bail for the second time who do I report it to..?
Mark Dane - 29-May-20 @ 12:59 PM
I have got a bail condition and curfew in Scotland and now would like to know if I can change my curfew address to England due to work opportunities and safer life but not sure if I can move that far
Rab - 25-May-20 @ 11:49 PM
My boyfriend has been taken into custody for breaking my phone, will I be able to get him out if I go and speak to them
beth - 24-May-20 @ 8:05 PM
my son was arrested as his partner said he was threatening towards her - he was bailed with restrictions that he wasn't to go to her address and see her and that he would have to apply to social services to see his son, who he cared for 5 days out of 7 as she was normally in bed suffering from the after effects of her drug habit - then she appears at his door- obviously this needs to be documented with the police but does that pose a problem for him - even though he wasn't in the wrong?
clara - 22-May-20 @ 10:33 PM
I was assaulted by 4 people which is clearly on camera the people get charged but get bail but they came back in a car drove front of my house threatning me i phoned the cops told wrote a statement and they were locked up again today is there bail hearing will they get a bail again
fezan - 21-May-20 @ 12:37 PM
My ex is on bail for hiting me n my sister is his family aloud to come n take our son so he can see him
Tracey - 19-Apr-20 @ 11:46 AM
if a soldier was on bail from civilian police and part of the conditions was a curfew at their military address on barracks could the civilian police ask the military police to do curfew checks? Would this be lawful and would this be considered a proper check under the bail conditions.
M - 15-Apr-20 @ 12:58 PM
What happends is you fail to serender court. 20 years ago and didn't pay any outstanding fins. I am living in a other country but I want to go back to the UK to visit family but I have children and I don't want to get stopt when I come into the UK. Is it still active do I get arrested??
Ml - 6-Mar-20 @ 10:06 AM
When will bail conditions be lifted when imposed by court
Jjcc - 11-Feb-20 @ 9:09 PM
If I'm on bail and I have a curfew and I'm 7 min late do I get breached
Ace - 6-Feb-20 @ 3:16 AM
Hi by boyfriend is on court bail and he signs on everyday at a certain time... but he didnt sign on yesterday and im worried what can happen as a result of this?
Florence - 31-Dec-19 @ 10:33 AM
I’m on court bail and sign once a week. I’ve only just realised that today is my signing day and I’ve missed it. What is likely to happen as a result of this?
Lee - 27-Dec-19 @ 11:24 PM
I got court bail for a section 38 conditions are cant see my partner but we have 7 kids she has told police she doesn't want to go ahead with the case she wants me home with her and the kids what can we do
Dounut - 13-Dec-19 @ 8:32 AM
Can anyone help me my boyfriends been in a police chase because of having no license and insurance what will happen next
FutureWaters - 2-Dec-19 @ 2:19 PM
My boyfriend raped me and abused me. I reported him to the police, when he was in custody, the police were doing medical examination on me when I found out I'm pregnant. He doesnt even know, next week I'm having my first scan, but tomorrow I will meet with my special trained officer and I will ask her to help me to get him to the hospital with me. I miss him so much, I think i will ask them to drop charges.
Mia996 - 30-Nov-19 @ 11:21 PM
my boyfriendrapes me hes been charged and is out on bail , im not angry with him im hirting like mad because i love amd miss him so mich and i dont know what too do
lilly - 26-Nov-19 @ 12:44 AM
Hi me and my bf has an argument he pushed me the police got called he got took away and put up to court he’s not aloud to contact me or come near me I’m just wondering if there’s anyway to get these bail conditions dropped as it has never happened before and was just in the heat of the moment and is not a threat to me my minds just going crazy as I don’t know if he’s okay.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxx - 21-Nov-19 @ 12:58 PM
My be has been bailed until 11Dec but we ha e a getaway booked and paid for 10-15 Dec, can he get his bail dateschange.
Boo - 21-Nov-19 @ 12:25 PM
Hi, my bf has been bailed without charge until 11 Dec but our children have booked us a getaway abroad for our Christmas present 10-15 Dec, can he get the dates of his bail changed?
Boo - 21-Nov-19 @ 12:22 PM
Am on bail for batterytorturekid nap and gbh am back with my wife aliving together but they are still ringing and texting what can I do
Johnboy - 3-Nov-19 @ 6:48 AM
My bf was arrested last week for hitting me. This is the only time it's happened. He's now on bail till the 20th Nov and is it allowed to contact me. We both still love each other and I want to contact him. However will I get in trouble and will I make it worse if I call him
Confused - 26-Oct-19 @ 11:20 PM
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