Police bail restrictions

13 January 2021

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question: 

What is the relevant legislation / case law / guidance around what can and cannot be used as a police imposed bail condition?

I thought I had seen case law before that stated it will hardly ever be proportionate/justified to give somebody bail conditions not to be allowed back to their own address (although we do this quite frequently) - is that the correct?

Answer:

Section 47(1A) of PACE states that the 'normal powers to impose conditions of bail' shall be available where a custody officer releases on bail. The 'normal powers to impose conditions of bail' are those listed in section 3(6)(a)-(ca) of the Bail Act 1976.

The effect of this is that the granting of police bail and the conditions which may be imposed are entirely consistent with the criteria applied by a court in granting bail. Therefore conditions may be imposed in respect of any one or more of the following grounds:

1. To secure the person's surrender to custody;
2. To secure the person does not commit offences while on bail;
3. To secure the person does not interfere with witnesses or otherwise, obstruct the course of justice whether in relation to himself or any other person; or
4. For his own protection or, if he is a child or young person, for his own welfare or in his own interests.

Section 3A of the Bail Act 1976 states that section 3 of the Act applies to bail granted by a custody officer under Part IV of PACE, subject to the fact that a custody officer may not impose a condition requiring the person to reside in a bail hostel to make him available for enabling enquiries or a report to be prepared for court.

There is a case on the considerations that are required when imposing conditional bail – R v Mansfield ex parte Sharkey and others (1984) - but this is concerned with the reason for the conditions being applied, rather than what specific conditions can be given.

We aren't aware of any other case law that relates to specific conditions. In our view, it is likely that any condition, subject to the statutory restrictions, would be acceptable, as long as you can justify the reason for it and it is proportionate.

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