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Police and Court Bail

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 27 Jun 2022 |
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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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Hi I was wondering if my boyfriend on bail against me how can I get some clothes
Charlotte Saxby - 27-Jun-22 @ 3:45 AM
@Marshallinos- yes you can be charged with witness intimidation even if charges are dropped if it is proven you contacted witness whilst the bail conditions were in place (ie, before the charges were dropped).
CatHam - 21-Sep-21 @ 10:33 AM
Hi, I’ve been arrested for a criminal offence, rape allegation. I’ve been released on bail with condition not to contact the girl. While on bail my friend advised me to try contact the girl and end ask her to withdraw the allegation but we tried and we couldn’t get in touch with the girl. Somehow I was supposed to return back to the police station on a date given but I’ve been told there is no further action for the case as the girl herself refused to comply with the police and they couldn’t continue the investigation. But while I’m out now, me and my friend having a bit of disagreement in friendly matter and he is treating now that he will report me that I’ve been attempting to contact the girl while on bail. Do you think even the case is close I can still be charged for attempt to witness intimidation? Please all answer will be helpful
Marshallinos - 14-Sep-21 @ 5:07 PM
My husband has bail conditions that say we are allowed no contact but I have been writing to him he is in prison will he get the letters that I have been writing him
Sara - 31-Jul-21 @ 4:01 PM
My ex partner was sent to court and possibly put on tag but I have had a answerphone message saying he is going to be rearrested for breaking his bail but another officer has called me saying they can't locate him surely if he is on tag they would of got him by now?
Lizz - 7-Jun-21 @ 3:01 PM
Hi. Does anyone know if you don’t attend court as a witness, would I still be on someone’s bail letter? OrCan I take my name of someone’s bail letter as we’re still a couple and want to see each other but don’t know what steps to take. If so, how would we go about doing this?
Amy - 24-May-21 @ 10:10 AM
Hi, been in magister court, my boyfriend been charged for a criminal offence, court accept bail application but police appealed now we going to crown court. Would crown court accept his bail application ?
Fanta - 22-May-21 @ 1:50 PM
A councillor sent me a person's bail notice.I at that time had no authority to act on his behalf, so I assume that was a Data Protection offence.Is anyone allowed to see bail notices?The chap was proved innocent in the end but he died due to the severe stress they put him under. Many thanks if you can advise whether this councillor was entitled to send me that chap's bail notice and how would he be able to get hold of it anyway?
Ollie - 10-May-21 @ 3:33 PM
Hi my son is on bail caus of his ex girlfriend constantly ringing the police on him Saying he's hurt her like domestic abuse there is no.evidence for this and he's got to.go to court. The thing is she's constantly ringing and messaging him and because he's not answering she threatening him again with the police he's so worried and scared cause she's done this he's now not allowed to.see.his daughter because social services have been involved help what can we do to stop.her doing this and ruining my.sons life
Ray123 - 11-Apr-21 @ 2:45 AM
What does one do if they have no means of transport to the police station to answer bail?
Spqr1878 - 6-Apr-21 @ 1:20 PM
Hi just wondering because as it was a holiday yesterday my parenter forgot to sign into the police station but we thought it would be ok because everything was closed due to Easter day
Alley - 2-Apr-21 @ 10:44 PM
Can you get remanded when you answer bail with no fixed address or what can they do to you does anyone know please
PICKLE - 26-Mar-21 @ 12:02 AM
Me and my girlfriend had an argument and I went to court and I was givin an uncoditional bail not to speak or see her , problem is we are sill a couple and she hates what she did and made up a story to get back at me and now our court date is in middle of June ,. She want to retract the court order so we can be together again ! How can this be done and what does she need to do so we can be together again ?
Ben - 20-Mar-21 @ 11:01 AM
Hi I am on bail because of my ex and I can not have no contact but she has been texting and harrasing me I haven't answered nothing can she get in trouble for this
Tez - 23-Feb-21 @ 9:04 AM
How do I contact the police about someone breaching there bail I don’t like being on the phone is there any other way I can contact them?
Alig - 21-Feb-21 @ 1:03 AM
Hi I'm just wondering if some one could help me I have received mail in the post regarding some male been released on court bail but he is using my address I don't no the person at all who do I contact regarding this
gurt - 15-Feb-21 @ 3:00 PM
My ex is on court bail awaiting sentencing. He’s been told not to attend my property or get in touch. Today he’s been to the house. I’ve had to call the police, but not heard anything yet. What will happen to him? Will I be able to go to work without worrying?
Snailmail - 27-Jan-21 @ 6:24 PM
My abusive partner has been bailed to my address by the court but he does not live there.I have had to leave my home because of this.How do I get him out.
Ju - 19-Jan-21 @ 9:01 PM
I've have been granted bail until 3rd February for the Crown Court pre Trial hearing,my solicitor has told me that this date my be likely to change because of the situation( Covid ) , Will I still remain on bail or will I bekept me in custody?.
Rox - 13-Jan-21 @ 11:48 AM
If I’m on bail against someone and I message that person to try and save there life can I still be nicked
Beasty - 12-Jan-21 @ 11:09 PM
Hello, What happens if you getarrested by the police they don’t interview you they don’t charge you but they put you on bail what does that mean please .
Lovely - 11-Jan-21 @ 7:31 PM
Hello, I am on bail section 4, how long can I be held in custody for breaking bail, is it until my bail due date
Drewstow - 5-Jan-21 @ 1:53 PM
Hi I'm on bail against my ex partner can I go to Leeds city centre
bek love mark - 22-Dec-20 @ 12:27 PM
If to people and involved in a investgation and one oh bouth are on bail can they see each other
Bob - 8-Dec-20 @ 8:14 PM
I’ve been issued a warrent for arrest has I was meant to attend court yesterday and didn’t know has I had no letters or didn’t Evan know I’d been charged is this right what they are doing
Shup - 18-Nov-20 @ 11:54 AM
How long are the police allowed to keep you in custody after you have been given bail?
H - 13-Nov-20 @ 5:51 PM
What happens if your ex gave your address and phone number to his solicitor to get bail and the solicitor rings but you dont answer what happens after?
Queenie - 10-Nov-20 @ 9:39 PM
I know someone who as to answer bail soon do that happen ona weekend or not thanks
Bonjoe10 - 9-Nov-20 @ 11:19 PM
I'm on bail and tag can I go to Leeds city centre
Beck - 22-Oct-20 @ 5:44 PM
I'm on tag bail how many days do i get back when sentenced
Richo - 12-Oct-20 @ 8:44 AM
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