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Police and Court Bail

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 31 Oct 2023 |
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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my ex started an affair,while I was at work she was in touch with we buy any car selling the car I paid,she then accused me of assault so I got 6 months on remand.in crown court she was caught lying over and over on all of my charges, the police admitted changing statements 7 times to seal a conviction falsifying evidence.I was found not guilty on all charges.I lost my home, job,liberty.I spent another 8hrs in a cell because she accused me of phoning her and still even though she is proven in court to not tell the truth I'm on bail while police investigate. meanwhile my property and money on her own admission in court is spread amongst her family.police doing nothing.where can I find help
m1963 - 31-Oct-23 @ 2:59 AM
im on bail for a domestic case and am awaiting trail. i want to stop drinking but have to go to the police station 3 times a week next week. how can i get help. i feel really ill mentally and physically (pain in stomachand vomiting blood, black tarry stools).
jum - 3-Jun-23 @ 1:57 PM
Hi I live in the UK. I'm on Court bail. My mental health is deteriorating badly if I got sectioned in a mental health hospital what would happen to me? Thanks Mark
Wink - 2-May-23 @ 11:47 PM
I am trying to get to the truth of some allegations against a former business contact. It is being claimed he is currently on bail for fraud and harassment charges. Is there a way of knowing if this is true? I don't know which court or police force might have dealt with it.
redlizzie - 25-Apr-23 @ 12:40 PM
my brother has been arrested and in prison under remand, his applied for a bail apeal to the crown court. He suggested if he could be put under crewfew or pay money its robbery case do you think the could appect the bail application
jajay - 29-Mar-23 @ 11:07 AM
Hi my ex partner has been to court and been let out on bail conditions to stay away from the street I live on does that mean he can still be in the same area of where I live?
Amber - 6-Mar-23 @ 1:26 PM
If someone you love been arrested because what they done to you and his been remammed are you still allowed to write to them and email them why the investigation is still on going
Lola - 6-Mar-23 @ 1:02 AM
My son has been accused of rape from a girl he was seeing over 3 years ago. He's been released on bail while they do further investigations.Should we be doing anything while waiting to hear further? I'm worried by not doing anything this will not go in his favour.
LS - 2-Feb-23 @ 11:13 AM
My partner and I was attacked by a neighbour on the 8th of June in an homophobic attack.The offender was charged and bailed. He was due in court on the 27th June but failed to show. The courts have him bail again. Since then I have suffered intimidation from the offender. And he's broken his bail. Several times. And the police say they can't do anything.His latest breach was 26th August. He was arrested.Taken to court on the 27th but then was sent home.We live in the same block of flats. The police have failed is time and tim and time again. And so has the courts.He is a violant man and he has been intimidating the victims and other witnesses.
Milbo - 30-Aug-22 @ 9:09 AM
Also I forgot to mention thatI don't drive and use public transport to get about
DJDP2019 - 25-Aug-22 @ 1:12 PM
Hi been released on police bail one my conditionswas not to enter a certain town but If I need to pass throughthis certaintown can I still pass through it
DJDP2019 - 25-Aug-22 @ 1:07 PM
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
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