The following section provides an overview and information regarding matters linked to bail.


Failing to answer bail or complying with bail conditions can render a person to be arrested and provide grounds to refuse bail.

Bail: The temporary release of a person suspected or accused of an offence with a duty to surrender themselves to a court or a police station in the future. Bail may be unconditional or with conditions which restrict activity, contact with others or frequenting specific locations. Additionally there are occasions where a sum of money (called a Surety) may be required and lodged to guarantee their appearance.

Failing to answer bail or complying with bail conditions can cause a person to be arrested and provide grounds to refuse bail.

There’s a difference between 'bail before being charged' where the investigation is ongoing and 'bail where a person is charged'. Before being charged, bail is given to return to a police station at a date and time and this is sometimes referred to ‘section 47 bail’. After being charged it will be bail to appear at court for the offence(s).

Charged: To be formally accused of committing an offence where the offence is read out according to a form of words under law. Generally it means the investigation is complete and it progresses to court. A written copy of the charge is also provided.

Why is bail used? (Click for more information)

People have a right to bail by law.  It is a way of legally binding a person to a process of investigation or prosecution.

Where people are bailed as part of ongoing investigations, conditions can be imposed to prevent further offences committed, obstruct the course of justice, intimidate witnesses (which includes the victim) or to ensure they answer bail. For example, a condition might be to sign at a police station on certain days at specific times.

This is the same for people charged with an offence to attend court, but with the additional option that bail may be refused so they are remanded to appear at the next available court.

What is ‘refused bail’? (Click for more information)

This is where a person has been charged and the police or the court has decided bail should not be granted because there are reasons to believe:

  • Further offences may be committed.
  • Fail to surrender to bail, commit an offence on bail.
  • Interfere with witnesses.
  • Obstruct the course of justice.

I’m on bail and have lost my paperwork (Click for more information)

Contact the relevant officer dealing with your case as soon as possible and you can be provided with a copy of the information you need. This does not provide a reason to fail to answer bail or breach any conditions.

It’s important that any paperwork or documentation provided by the police or court is retained. For example, your solicitor may wish to see them.

Can juveniles be ‘refused bail’ (Click for more information)

For juveniles (young people under 17 years of age) there are circumstances where bail may be refused. Normally steps are taken for the young person to be taken into the care of the local authority pending the court hearing unless:

  • It is not practicable to do so such, as the local authority is unable to take them into their care.
  • The juvenile is at least 12 years old, no secure accommodation is available and any other accommodation is not adequate to protect the public from serious harm from that juvenile.

In such circumstances the juvenile will remain at the police station until they can be escorted to the relevant court. For breach of bail or an arrest under a warrant, there is no requirement to transfer to local authority care.

I want to change my bail conditions (Click for more information)

Bail conditions given by the police and not yet appeared at court:  You need to contact the police station who released you on bail and speak with a custody officer. Alternatively contact your solicitor who may make representations on your behalf. The custody officer will decide if your conditions can be changed.

Bail given by a court: You need to contact the relevant court as the police will not be able to consider your request. You’re advised to contact your solicitor who can make representations on your behalf.

Please be aware that any application for a change to your bail conditions can take time, whether to the police or the court.

What if I’m on bail and can’t sign or answer on time? (Click for more information)

Failure to comply with conditions set by the police or the court which you accepted as a condition of your release is likely to result in your arrest.

There are circumstances where it’s understandable people will not be able to answer bail such as being at hospital, in police custody or too ill to sign. Documentary proof is required from you (such as a doctor's note), as the police will not make enquires to confirm your reasons. Explanations such as financial or transportation problems, oversleeping, forgetting or losing your paperwork are not recognised as valid excuses.

Someone I know is on bail and breaching their conditions (Click for more information)

Contact the police on 101 to inform them (or 0300 330 0101). You may be asked to provide your details and the police may ask you to provide a statement. Even if you don’t want to give your name and details, if someone is breaking any of their conditions we still want to know. If someone is at risk of immediate harm you need to dial 999.