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Police and Court Bail

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 Apr 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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[Add a Comment]
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
Hi, I was recently charged with DV and bailed with a no contact condition. This made me homeless and as I'm also self employed with all my office stuff at home, cannot work either. Is there anyway I can get the bail conditions lifted so I'm able to get to my home to access my computer for work reasons?
Justy - 18-Dec-16 @ 2:25 PM
If I'm on bail not to contact someone then they lie and say I did what happens next
Dd - 14-Dec-16 @ 12:19 PM
My partner has been on remand twice before, but got out on the hearing. Could you places tell me if that goes or doesn't go down as a previous conviction?? Anyone please. Niamh
Niamh - 12-Dec-16 @ 6:55 PM
My partner has been placed on bail till march when he has to go back to court we live in different towns will he be allowed to leave to visit me or will I have to travel to him
Ashley - 4-Dec-16 @ 7:31 PM
Hi my boyfriends probation officer phoned to confirm address with me n sed he was due to be realised was passing it on to his own town probation n hes not erd iv rang n sed she doesn't no owt if he not out can do I think he held till court but not til feb n we on plo with social services should start risk n parenting course together until we both do its under court proceedings advice plz ?
mary - 2-Dec-16 @ 10:01 AM
Askinn - Your Question:
My husband was a taxi driver and girl said that he touched her which they dont have no proove and he didnt coz she was drunk and she wanted to do something with him and he has being bailed for 6 times everytime police said they dont have enough evidence for court so they keep giving another date what can we do about this? Can you give me information isit not illegal for bailing him 6 times

Our Response:
Although it is in motion to place a time limit on how many times an individual can be bailed and the length of bail, this still has not been pushed through parliament, meaning there is still currently no time limit and no need for police to seek approval to get bail extended before charge.
CourtroomAdvice - 1-Dec-16 @ 12:57 PM
My husband was a taxi driver and girl said that he touched her which they dont have no proove and he didnt coz she was drunk and she wanted to do something with him and he has being bailed for 6 times everytime police said they dont have enough evidence for court so they keep giving another date what can we do about this? Can you give me information isit not illegal for bailing him 6 times
Askinn - 30-Nov-16 @ 7:13 PM
My partner was rebailed by the police for further inquires at the end of October and has of yet not been given a new bail date. All the solicitor keeps saying is that he's heard nothing and contacted them several times. How long can it go on for without a rebail date?
Ali - 28-Nov-16 @ 6:48 AM
Is there any way to get the bail revoked off my boyfriend so he can get home and get in contact with me
Mary - 23-Nov-16 @ 11:09 AM
Wondering if you can help my boyfriend is on bail condition that he is not aloud contact me or come home until the trial is over but am wondering if you can help me get his bail dropped so he can come home and be in contact with me
Mary - 22-Nov-16 @ 7:25 PM
My friend was charged with possesion of weed and possibly intent to supply.her partner had just died and the police attended .and while there stumbled on his work bag with the items in it.there was a concious attempt for it to be hidden from her.because she is the tennant she was charged.this was over a year ago .is this not time barred or any advice on what is going to come of it thanks.
Chief - 20-Nov-16 @ 12:10 PM
Hi my boyfriend failed to appear go to court,he also breach bail condition being to me,and assault me,he was charged already for assault by beating before,i would like to know what happen with him
kikinka - 17-Nov-16 @ 9:58 PM
What does it mean when you have too go bk to police station before you have too go bk to see if you get re bailed or released? Anyone know?
TJ - 16-Nov-16 @ 4:39 PM
Can a person be convicted on hearsay evidence in crown court?
Tame - 15-Nov-16 @ 7:21 AM
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