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Police and Court Bail

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 16 Oct 2018 |
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]
Ive been sentenced in crown court and my bail has ended. But the tagging office hasn't been informed my bail has ended so tag is still active. Will I be breaking the law if I left through curfew hours as court had ended my bail?
Darrall - 16-Oct-18 @ 9:44 PM
My ex partner has gone to jail.He used my address for bail.How do i get his name taken off my address
Jessieg - 31-Aug-18 @ 12:14 PM
@Caz - Yes he can get arrested for not residing at his bail address.
GG - 10-Aug-18 @ 3:39 PM
My partner is on bail to reside at his mums house he has moved out and living in a caravan can he get arrested for not residing at his bail address
Caz - 3-Aug-18 @ 10:06 PM
Hello I'm on bail conditions and my partner has put a non molestation order against me I want my belongings back I have contacted the police time and time again however they aren't helping me get my belongings they said I would breach my bail Conditions if I went there. Please help I would like my belongings back from that address.
Naz - 11-Jun-18 @ 10:45 AM
Hi am on bail to not contact my partner coz me and his cousin started fighting amd he has pressed cbarges so they let me out on bail but only not to soeak to my partner or his cousin can the police found out? I dont no what to do
Tillyy - 14-May-18 @ 10:47 PM
My 16 year old son is out on bail and he's been charged while out what will happen now
Kaza - 6-May-18 @ 12:50 AM
How do avoid going to crown court I'm a victim and witness againce my wife
Ronald guy - 28-Apr-18 @ 6:15 PM
really dont see how it stops people from committing other crimes. just basically purgatory for crims.
bob marley - 28-Apr-18 @ 3:28 PM
my partner was arrested and has bin on bail now for 2 months he was original go bk 22nd March button the day was called saying tgey havnt got all paper work bk, and bail still stands and they will call, yet 3 wks on and stull no word what should he do??
saz - 2-Apr-18 @ 10:13 PM
@Squids23 - Your other half should avoid any contact, keep the evidence of her attempting to contact him and report his ex to the police.
Alex - 16-Mar-18 @ 12:40 PM
My other half has been accused of assault by his neighbour and bail conditions are not to contact her, which he hasn’t done. She, however, has gone out of her way to contact him, threatening him and even attempting to follow him and sent him pictures of her doing so. Apparently she is allowed to do this? How is this even allowed?
Squids23 - 15-Mar-18 @ 11:58 AM
I am being charged with assault of policeman on bail.After 10 days my details are notin court yet. Why? Also what can happen to me? I am on the antydepressant ghe highest dose. I got 4 drink with that and i cant remember nothing. Normally this amount is not much. I am single mum student and voluntering. I am not agresive person at all.
Gozdzik - 9-Mar-18 @ 7:43 PM
@virus7luhg - you wouldn't be allowed to leave the country if you are tagged.
NaBN - 8-Mar-18 @ 12:52 PM
Hi, I'm on court bail due to attend court in May and June for two different driving offences both of which are alcohol related, on both cases I have pleaded not guilty. In my last court appearance they give me a curfew by means of wearing an ankle bracelet. My question is, my wife is India and is planning on coming to the UK on a spouse visa and I intended to go with the documents to India so she can submit the application in Mumbai and we could have our honeymoon there. What's the chances of being allowed and how would I go about asking, ie who should I ask?
virus7luhg - 7-Mar-18 @ 9:14 AM
Attended station voluntarily in july 2017. IUC, given copy and released without charge. Today 3/2/18 letter arrives informing i have been charged. This is now 7 months on. I read if charged it has to be done within 6 months. Is this correct.
Tricia - 3-Feb-18 @ 12:10 PM
Can a Crown Court Judge use his / her own discretion to vary bail conditions even if the prosecution and defendant neither apply for this or want the conditions varied 2 years after they were put in place without a single breach? An example being where the Judge wants to cease a tagged curfew which will mean the defendant will avoid a custodial term due to a lengthy period on a qualifying curfew.Thanks
Taggedup - 28-Jan-18 @ 2:10 PM
If someone is on police bail since April 2016 and return to police station every 3 mths but the police officer in charge for the last few mth 6 saying case is with cps and wait for there decidedto charge If the person don't get retail date does that mean it's dropped or still waiting
Stel - 17-Jan-18 @ 7:34 PM
Hi, I did a voluntary interview at the start of June. I have not heard anything from the police or my solicitor it’s over 7 months ago. Do I need to contact someone. I’m in limbo and it’s making me feel ill. I would appreciate an answer if you have time. Thankyou
Chaz2410 - 10-Jan-18 @ 5:50 PM
Mar71 - Your Question:
My Daughter wants bail conditions dropped for her Boyfriend because they are wanting to be together. She accused him of an offense 10 days after giving birth and she has admitted it was because of Post Natal Depression. He is due in court in Mar 2018 and been on bail since Oct 2017. He has not seen his Baby since then and both my Daughter and her partner are suffering. I have contacted the police but they say they cannot do anything. Who do we contacyt for thgis to be sorted as a family are seperated when they should be together.

Our Response:
It's not as simple as contacting someone and asking for charges to be dropped. Once there is enough evidence gathered to charge a person, the case is passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS will first and foremost take into account the safety of the victim, and any other individuals and/or children who are involved. This means that regardless of whether the victim wishes to drop the charges, it is up to the CPS to make the decision to go ahead with the case where an assault has reportedly taken place. You can see all you need to know via the Woman's Aid link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 9-Jan-18 @ 10:30 AM
My Daughter wants bail conditions dropped for her Boyfriend because they are wanting to be together. She accused him of an offense 10 days after giving birth and she has admitted it was because of Post Natal Depression. He is due in court in Mar 2018 and been on bail since Oct 2017. He has not seen his Baby since then and both my Daughter and her partner are suffering. I have contacted the police but they say they cannot do anything. Who do we contacyt for thgis to be sorted as a family are seperated when they should be together.
Mar71 - 8-Jan-18 @ 5:11 PM
I'm currently on bail for assault on my girlfriend. I'm not allowed to attend my flat without police and I'm not allowed to directly or indirectly message her. Am I allowed to write a letter of apology and send it to the flat?
J - 5-Jan-18 @ 4:51 PM
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
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