Skip to main content

All about the courts

What is court bail?

When the police charge a young person with a crime, they must appear before a court with their parent or carer. The Judge or magistrates hear the evidence and witnesses and decide if a young person is guilty. They might ask for reports to help them understand the young person's behaviour before deciding on a sentence. This usually takes about two to six weeks, but for serious cases it can be up to a year.

If the court is worried about a young person's behaviour in that time, for example, they might get into trouble again, hurt someone or forget to come to their next hearing, it may make special bail or remand orders even if the young person hasn't been found guilty yet.

What is unconditional bail?

The court allows a young person to stay at home without any extra rules or supervision. The young person must promise to stay out of trouble and attend the next court hearing.

What is conditional bail?

The court decides that extra rules or supervision is needed, such as:

  • Report to a police station regularly
  • Stay indoors after a certain time
  • Wear an electronic tag
  • Be restricted as to where they live or go

What is the bail support and supervision programme?

The court orders the Youth Offending Team (YOT) to supervise the young person. They will need to go to regular meetings with YOT staff to help them stay out of trouble, as well as keep to any conditions that have been put on the bail.

Bail conditions must be fair and reasonable and must not take away more freedom than necessary. The YOT completes a bail assessment to explain what support can be provided and advises the court which conditions may be needed. This will always be done after speaking with a young person and their parent or carer to help them understand their rights and duties.

If the court agrees to place a young person under bail supervision, the YOT will arrange appointments and services to help them stay out of trouble. This may include help with housing, education, jobs or training, drug and alcohol misuse or family support. Some services are provided directly by the YOT and others through different local services.

Bail supervision is compulsory and if a young person doesn't cooperate they will usually only get one warning. If they break the rules again, they are arrested by the police and taken straight back to court. The Judge or magistrates may decide they can’t be trusted anymore and remand them into custody.

What is the ISS bail support programme?

This is the highest level of bail supervision and involves appointments with the YOT staff or other services every day, along with strict conditions that limit the young person's freedom (such as a curfew).

What does remand to custody mean?

In very rare and serious cases a young person must be remanded in custody while their case is being dealt with - either a young offender's institute, secure training centre or secure children's home. This is very hard for a young person and their family, and very expensive, so bail supervision is used whenever possible.