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Police and Court Bail

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 23 May 2015 |
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.


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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[Add a Comment]
My partner has been given conditions to stay away from me and our address, I have wrote a letter to his lawyer and been given a day to attendcourt for reconsideration of his conditions. I was wondering what is likely to happen and what exactly will I have to do. I won't have to stand infront of a judge,will I? I don't want him charged and miss him, I can't stay in the house either as my name is not on our tenancy so it is causing problems for me.
becca - 23-May-15 @ 10:04 PM
Hi, my partner was bailed today with a condition of an electronic tag. When he was arrested he gave his mothers address and the court have used his mothers address as his bail address and now has to stay there when he needs to be at home with me. How do we go about changing his bail address to mine, do I call them? Is it a long process? And does my landlord have to give permission for him to stay at my address with an electronicmtag? As I'm pretty sure he would not consent to it, do you know if the landlord will be contacted?
Shannatalie - 23-May-15 @ 3:40 PM
I've had my matter going on since January 2015. My matter is looking as thoe it'll be dropped as my lawyer is submitting to have charges dropped. I revived a letter saying to return to court on this time/date. But also says as due to you bringAt Large in relation to an office I'll have to have my ail undertaking but I'm already on bail from watch house what does this mean???
Micky - 22-May-15 @ 2:45 PM
@zola - I have included a gov.uk link: Police Power of Arrest here which should explain both police rights and your own.
CourtroomAdvice - 22-May-15 @ 12:01 PM
@Laura - I'm afraid you would have to speak to your offending officer who would advise you on this, as I'm afraid we do not have this information.
CourtroomAdvice - 22-May-15 @ 10:43 AM
Few weeks ago I was arrested for so called racial aggravations. the police came at my house at 2 am and I was taken to the police station. my DNA, pictures and finger prints were taken. after spending a good hours I was released with police bail to attend another police station as the allegation was made in other police station. on the following week I went to the police station and I was told I will be detained, at that point I asked for a solicitor and they locked me in police cell for over 3hrs while waiting for the solicitor. I was interrogated for good a couple of hours and got released with police bail to return to the police station. i don't believe the way the police dealt with the case wasn't appropriate in the circumstances. just because they have search and arrest power it doesn't mean they can criminate innocent people. im not very happy how the whole case was handled. I want to ask compensation for false impressment and emotional distress, but I don't know where to start and what are my options here? can police actually arrest and detain for none crime case?
zola - 18-May-15 @ 7:04 PM
I am on bail from the magistrates courts. My bail address is my moms,but I have been offered more secure housing through supported accommodation.I am expected to move in right away but how do I change my bail address and how long does it take. I also am finding it detrimental to everything staying here, it is causing arguments and making situations worse so I need to change it. Thanks
Laura - 18-May-15 @ 4:01 PM
@tom - you would have to speak with your offending officer about this.
CourtroomAdvice - 18-May-15 @ 10:40 AM
I've booked a holiday for next month to Spain but Im on bail for resisting arrest and police assault till September when I'm due to appear in Magistrates Court am I likely to be able to leave the country and go on my holiday before then ?
tom - 14-May-15 @ 2:54 PM
When you have to answer to bail do you have to go to court aswell? No matter what the case is ?
jo - 14-May-15 @ 10:34 AM
@Senty - the fact that you were involved has meant that you have been arrested and you will be a part of the police invesigation in order to ascertain what happened. After the police have completed their investigation they will decide whether there is strong enough evidence for the case to go to court. The police have to send all of their evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who will decide. There will be statements made by all those who were involved and all those who were witnesses. Hopefully, if it is arises that you have not been involved, then any charges made will be dropped.
CourtroomAdvice - 14-May-15 @ 9:55 AM
@tasha - I'm afraid the courts and police do not have to allow him police bail and it can be refused if there are grounds to believe that the person may commit further crimes or that witnesses or victims may be threatened. The police may also refuse bail if they believe that the person may not turn up for court or they have broken bail terms in the past. If your mother needs to speak to anyone for further advice, or support if she is feeling stressed, she can contact the Offenders' Families helpline via the link here. I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 12-May-15 @ 1:42 PM
@ringo - I have included a link to Offenders' Families helpline, link here which should be able to help either answer your question or point you in the right direction.
CourtroomAdvice - 12-May-15 @ 10:12 AM
Hi , i was arested just for.nothing.. i was with my friends in one restaurant eating , and after we eat , it was a argue with the restaurant staffs and my friends . they starts to fight after the fight i was in my street with other 2 guys. and one staff man come.on the street with the police and says that i was involved .... but anyways i wasen't even touch anyone.. i only see there was happend and saying to the peaople to.no fight... and i have been arested for.nothing . and the police gived me a bail ... intil they find out .. what would be happend . and if i wasent touch nobody
Senty - 12-May-15 @ 12:10 AM
@tiffy - I'm afraid I couldn't predict what may happen in court. However, if you need any further advice, you can contact Offenders' Families helpline via the link here . I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 11-May-15 @ 2:07 PM
a member of my family was arrested back in November accused of rape he has had his police bail put back on numerous occasions how long are the police allowed to do this as it is.making his mother very ill through the stress if it all
tasha - 10-May-15 @ 1:26 PM
My ex partner is on remand until the court date later this month, he was given police bail, which he broken immediately and then he was given court bail and yet again broke bail he was arrested in Monday the 4th of may 2015 for breaking court bail again. He Is charged with criminal damage, continuous harassment and wasting police time. I have to give evidence against him in court will he be sent to prison because of everything his done?
tiffy - 9-May-15 @ 5:10 PM
I am currently on bail after an assault. i cannot contact my girlfriend as she is a witness in the case. However, she is pregnant with my child and i would like to know how the pregnancy is going regarding scans etc. Is there anything i can do or can see to act as a mediator so i know how my unborn child is doing?
ringo - 9-May-15 @ 10:46 AM
I been re-bailed 5 or 6 times for Drunk and disorderly in a public place and I'm due back again tomorrow but can't make it due to work what will happen if I dnt go
matty - 4-May-15 @ 4:19 PM
My boyfriend iss on bail and has a cerfew has to be in his house by 10pm and cant leave the house till after 7am im going to visit family for a week and want him to come would he be able to come if he spoke to the police about where he was going and how long he was going for?
loulou - 4-May-15 @ 2:46 PM
Hi my husband has been arrested for a dvcase and his bail conditions said he can't contact or come near me. I have dropped my statement and he has been to court. The bail wasn't dropped and his next court isn't till September. I can't go that long without contact from him. It's breaking my heart and it's tearing our family apart. It was a silly argument that got a little heated, he does not deserve this however I know I can't get the cpsto drop the case but what can I do to get the bail conditions dropped. Please any help will be fab
becky - 2-May-15 @ 9:37 PM
Hi, my ex got arrested last year for a drug offense he was released in bail and had a court date last November where he was told to come back in January for a trial, however he did not go to court in January as he said he didn't have the exact date through. He has since told me that his solicitor hasn't even been in touch with him since last November. Could this be true or is he on the run? He has previous convictions, I have a son to him and we split up due to his violence towards me. I dont want my son in his house if he has a warrant out for his arrest and is on the run from the law
missme - 2-May-15 @ 3:57 PM
My partner was detained in the UK, but we didn't have enough for bail before his hearing 2 days ago. He went to them with the amount that we had, which was denied. I now have since raised what was remaining. What can I do now?I have been unable to reach him, in 2 days.What do I do?
bren - 2-May-15 @ 3:00 PM
@Selina - I think you would have to have a word with his solicitor regarding this. If you need any futher help you can ring the Offenders' Families helpline via the link here. I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 30-Apr-15 @ 2:01 PM
@ellie - I'm afraid you have no rights if your bail has specified that you do not return to the home.
CourtroomAdvice - 30-Apr-15 @ 11:54 AM
Hi there, I was arrested following a disturbance in my village as I was there when the people involved were arrested, and I was too. Although I am certain I shall not be prosecuted for the charges against me, I was given conditional bail(curfew from 7pm - 7pm) which I breached...I now have a court date for breaching this bail and was wondering what the outcome will be? I was late by 10 minutes and was arrested at my house as a witness called the police and informed them of my breach. Thanks!
Tyler - 28-Apr-15 @ 3:04 PM
Hi my partner got arrested while i was on holiday and he applied for bail from the crown court today and was denied. We had a baby who is only 6 months old and I have returned to work full time but he didn't mention any of this in his bail application as he thought I wouldn't take him back after he got arrested. I am now really struggling and understand he may get convicted and sent back, but is it possible his responsibilities could help grant him Bail if he appealed? Even 3 months would suffice till atleast the baby is a little older and I can arrange something else with work and children?
Selina - 27-Apr-15 @ 6:13 PM
I have been arrested, interviewed and released on unconditional bail.However, I was informally asked to move out of the family home immediately, which I did on the discussed basis that it would help protect the kids from being questioned by police / social services (which is fine by me - nothing to hide). This was a voluntary decision by me, with tears and 'sorry but for the best' from my wife. 10 minutes later she called the police and next day had the locks changed with, according to her, 'the police in attendance'. What are my rights here? - I have been out of my home for over 2 weeks, cannot trade properly, etc I pose no threat to my wife or children but appreciate this is a difficult situation. BUT I feel I have been deceived to leave as an act of co-operation then 'lock-out'
ellie - 27-Apr-15 @ 3:35 PM
@d88 - I imagine he will go straight to jail as there is no reason for them to take him to a police station.
Sam - 22-Apr-15 @ 12:17 PM
@Nixy - If the court has given him his bail conditions, then it is up to the court to change those conditions. However, if the CPS is charging him then it is likely those conditions will remain for protection to you, regardless of whether you want them changed or not. The safety of the victim and any children and young person will be a key factor for the CPS at this stage. You can find out more regarding how and why the CPS may decide to prosecute in matters of domestic violence here. I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 22-Apr-15 @ 10:18 AM
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