Custody time limits
Custody time limits

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Custody time limits
  • The effect of expiry of the custody time limits
  • When an application should be made to extend custody time limits
  • Criteria for extending the custody time limits
  • Procedure for applying to extend the custody time limits

The Prosecution of Offences (Custody Time Limits) Regulations 1987, SI 1987/299 (CTLR 1987), made under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (POA 1985), impose time limits on the length of time an accused can be kept in custody before their trial.

They impose the following maximum time limits:

  1. 70 days between the defendant’s first appearance in the magistrates’ court and committal proceedings

  2. 70 days between the defendant’s first appearance and summary trial for an offence that is triable either way, reduced to 56 days if the decision for summary trial is taken within 56 days

  3. 56 days between the defendant’s first appearance and the start of the summary trial for summary-only offence

  4. 112 days between the defendant’s committal for trial and his arraignment (when the defendant is asked in the Crown Court to plead guilty or not guilty)

  5. 70 days between the defendant’s first court appearance and the decision to send an indictable-only offence to the Crown Court, and

  6. 182 days from the date when an indictable-only case is sent to the Crown Court

Each offence attracts its own custody time limits, but this is subject to an important qualification: the new offence must be different in law so as to justify a fresh custody time limit.

If the new offence is brought merely to keep the accused in custody rather than