When your child has been accused of a crime, the shock and fear of them losing their liberty can be unbearable. While a case is ongoing, most children and young people will be allowed youth bail. This means that they are allowed to not be in prison or in the care of the local authority while waiting for their case to be finished. Parents and families of children should be aware of the rules for when this can happen. We have included a free guide to bail and what happens when children don’t get bail below. Youth procedure is often changing, so please check with a lawyer for any recent changes.
When is youth bail denied by the court?
The usual rules for bail for someone aged 17 or over generally apply for youth bail for children and young people too. For information on how bail works in adult criminal cases click here.
The basic rules are that bail should be allowed unless there is a risk that the accused person will:
- commit further offences while on bail
- not turn up to court (abscond) if they are given bail
- interfere with witnesses
What happens when youth bail is refused by the court?
If the youth court decides not to grant bail where they will be taken depends on their age and sex.
For Someone aged 10 or 11
If the court refuses bail, youths of this age must be remanded (this means sent to custody until the end of the case) into local authority accommodation. The youth court judge(s) can order that the youth is not placed with a specific person.
All Youths aged 12, 13 or 14 and girls aged 15 or 16
If youth bail is refused, the youth court has the same powers with these youths as it does for youths aged 10 or 11.
There are also two extra powers that the magistrates have with children of this age:
- Firstly, the magistrates can place a condition that the youth wears an electronic tag. That is not allowed for 10 and 11 year olds. A tag can only be ordered where the offence is a serious violent or sexual offence, or if the child has a tendency to serious offences while on bail or in local authority accommodation. The tag must also be necessary to protect the public or prevent the young person from committing further serious offences.
- The second additional power the magistrates have is that if they want to remand a youth into local authority accommodation they can make that remand be to secure accommodation. Secure accommodation restricts the free movement of the youth and can only be granted if the same conditions for a tag listed above are met.
Boys aged 15 or 16
If the court refuses to give youth bail to a 15 or 16 year old, the youth court can use any of the powers listed above for younger people. But if the magistrates feel that the only option is secure remand then this usually means that will be to a remand centre or to prison. If the youth court is of the opinion that it is a bad idea to send a 15 or 16 year old boy to prison because of his level of maturity (physical or mental), he can be sent to local authority secure accommodation.