Recent Changes to Police Bail Rules”,

Police powers in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’) to release suspects on pre-charge bail are subject to time limits that have recently changed.[1]


…the police could release you initially for a period of 28 days, extendable by up to three months with a superintendent’s authorisation. If the police wanted to extend a person’s bail beyond three months (for a maximum of six months), they would have had to apply to a Magistrates’ Court to do so.

How long will I be on bail now?

The initial period for which police can impose bail is now three months in standard cases.[2] (NB: ‘Non-standard’[3] and/ or ‘designated’[4] cases have different time limits, not described below.)

The initial three-month period is extendable up to six months[5] by an inspector[6] (a lower rank of officer than the superintendent previously required), subject to the conditions laid out in the.[7] A person (and / or their lawyer) must be told about a decision to extend bail, and any representations they make must be considered when making the decision.[8]

If the police wish to extend bail beyond six months, they can do so with a ‘senior officer’s’ authority. The senior officer (superintendent or above)[9] can grant a further three months (nine total from the date bail started, i.e.). As with the extension of the initial period, a person (and / or their lawyer) must be told about a decision to extend bail, and any representations they make must be taken into account when making the decision.

If the police wish to extend bail beyond nine months, they must do so by application to the Magistrates’ Court.[10] The Court can extend bail for up a further three months (12 months total) in the first instance.[11] In some circumstances, there can be a further six months (18 months total).[12] Any subsequent extension must be made on application to the Magistrates’.[13]

Even if the Court does not determine an application to extend bail by the end of the nine-month period, bail is automatically extended until the Court determines the application.[14]

Other changes

The law[15] now requires the police to take account of the views of the alleged victims (as defined in PACE)[16] on the conditions of pre-charge bail. This was not previously a requirement.

If you are subject to pre-charge bail and would like to discuss matters with one of our specialist lawyers, please contact our Crime and Regulatory Department on 020 7632 4300.

[1] By s. 45 of, and Schedule 4 to, the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

[2] PACE, s. 47ZB(1)(b)

[3] FCA, HMRC, NCA, and SFO investigations.

[4] Designated as ‘exceptionally complex’ by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

[5] PACE, s.47ZD(2)

[6] PACE s. 47ZD(6)

[7] PACE, s.47ZC

[8] PACE s. 47ZD(2)-(4)

[9] PACE, s. 47ZDA(6)

[10] PACE, s. 47ZF

[11] PACE s. 47ZF(3) & (4)(a)

[12] PACE s. 47ZF(7)

[13] PACE, s. 47ZG

[14] PACE, s.47ZJ

[15] PACE, s. 47ZZA

[16] PACE, s. 47ZZA(13)-(14)


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