Criminal proceedings in Scotland 2016-17: statistics

Statistics on criminal proceedings concluded in Scottish courts and alternatives to prosecution, issued by the police and by the Crown Office.

17. Bail and undertakings

( Tables 14 -16)

Where a person has been arrested or charged by the police, the police may decide to keep the person in custody. The police will submit a report to the COPFS in respect of the person in custody and where the COPFS decide that he or she is to be prosecuted, they will appear at court on the first lawful day after they were taken into police custody. At this point the accused may apply for bail and the sheriff or judge will decide whether the accused should be released on bail until they next need to appear in court for later stages of the proceedings.

In some circumstances, where the individual is not merely cited to appear at a later date, the police may decide to release the individual on an undertaking. This means the accused will have their initial appearance in court at a later date. Conditions similar to bail are applicable. It is not possible to release someone charged with rape or murder on an undertaking.

Please note that four additional tables on bail are available for download from the " Additional data" page. These include bail statistics by court type as well as age and gender. One of the tables presents bail aggravators i.e. offences that were committed while the offender was on bail.

Bail orders made, and by main crime type

The number of bail orders decreased by seven per cent from 45,346 in 2015-16 to 42,277 in 2016-17. Over the longer term, numbers have fallen by 30% since 2007-08. This is consistent with the longer term trends in volumes of cases coming to court.

In the year to 2016-17, there were annual decreases in most categories, the exceptions being in motor vehicle offences (up nine per cent to 1,924 bail orders); Fire-Raising and Vandalism (up two per cent to 2,509); and handling offensive weapons (up two per cent to 1,265).

The most prominent decreases are seen in the numbers of bail orders issued for common assault (down 12% to 7,652); drug offences (down 11% to 2,346); and 'other crime' (down 10% to 7,138).

Bail-related offences

Bail-related offences cover the offences of breach of bail conditions ( e.g. interfering with a witness) and failure to appear in court after being granted bail. A total of 7,671 bail-related offences had a charge proved in 2016-17, a decrease of 11% on 2015-16 (8,589).

The proportion of bail-related offences as a percentage of all bail orders granted in 2016-17 was 18%. This has remained fairly constant since 2008-09 but is 5 percentage points higher than in 2007-08 (13%).

In 2016-17 there were 14,442 undertakings to appear in court, a fall of eight per cent from 2015-16 (15,641 undertakings). Three quarters of undertakings were issued to males in 2016-17 (10,765 people), a proportion that has been in decline since 2009-10 when they represented 79% of all undertakings. The proportion of young people being issued with an undertaking has been in decline with 15% of undertakings for under-21 year olds in 2016-17 compared to 25% in 2009-10.


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