Has the UK prosecuted, or attempted to prosecute, individuals for jumping bail, or otherwise trying to evade the justice system, other than with Julian Assange? I had a look at the England and Wales section of Wikipedia's article on bail, and while it mentions that it is a criminal offence, it doesn't mention how often, if at all, prosecutions have been done for that.

I'd be especially interested if the government has ended up solely investigating or prosecuting for jumping bail or otherwise evading the justice system.

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    I found numbers from 2004, so I won’t make an answer from them; in that year, 29973 adults were sentenced for failing to surrender to bail, of which 3362 received a custodial sentence (i.e. jail).
    – chirlu
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 10:44
  • 3
    @chirlu That would have been a perfectly reasonable answer, so please post it as one. Sure, it's out of date but it seems unlikely that the UK has lost interest in prosecuting bail jumping in the last 14 years, or that 2004 was significantly above or below normal levels. Please post answers as answers. Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 12:28
  • @chirlu plus, your data cover prosecutions which is part of the question whereas my answer only covers outstanding warrants, which could be interpreted as "attempts to prosecute that haven't succeeded yet", but given the reference to Assange in the question doesn't include information on "actively attempting to arrest" which is probably the comparison the OP is trying to draw out.
    – Jontia
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 12:40
  • Hmm. Someone had to be the first person prosecuted for this. Surely there's a question on PSE that asks if (s)he was the only person ever prosecuted. Unless, of course, the OP is singling out Assange... Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 17:57
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    @Don there’s a widespread belief that the UK is singling Assange out, and I wanted to see if the UK prosecutes or attempts to prosecute others for jumping bail.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 21:15

2 Answers 2



This article on the BBC from 2016 states that 13000 Arrest warrants are outstanding, on people who have jumped bail, or as in the words of the article

Figures obtained by the BBC show more than 13,000 people are subject to outstanding arrest warrants in England, with the oldest dating back to 1980.

The BBC asked for details of arrest warrants issued via the courts due to suspects not attending hearings.

A suspect will have been on bail prior to the hearing. This figure is just for the warrants that were still outstanding at the time of inquiry, and would not include those individuals who have subsequently been rearrested.

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    I assume the vast majority of those were primarily arrested to face the charges they were originally on bail for. How many were prosecuted for skipping bail after the original charges have been dropped? Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 7:01
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    How many spent years hiding in an embassy? I don't have figures either way. The Assange case is unique because the police know exactly where he is and just can't go get him. Otherwise this would have been resolved years ago at little to no cost.
    – Jontia
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 7:54

To give one famous example of someone who tried to evade the British justice system I would refer you to Ronnie Biggs one of the Great Train Robbers of 1963.

In 1963 the Great Train Robbery as it is called in Britain occurred when a group of criminals robbed a train of £2.6 million pounds that were being transported on it. This is equivalent of £50 million in today's money. The group of criminals were eventually caught and convicted.

Ronnie Biggs was one of this group and sentenced in 1965 to 30 years in prison after 15 months in jail he escaped, and eventually made a home for himself in Brazil and despite British attempts to extradite him he was allowed to stay.

In 2001 he returned to the UK for medical treatment when he was arrested and sent to jail to complete his jail term despite being in his 70s. He later died in 2009 having been released on compassionate grounds.

  • @Kamil Drakari the OP says " otherwise trying to evade the justice system" I would call escaping jail trying to do that.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 18:02
  • @KamilDrakari - I think "otherwise evading the justice system" also incorporates "escaping from jail".
    – Alexei
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 18:03
  • @Alexei I missed those parts of the question, escaping from jail would indeed qualify as "otherwise evading the justice system. Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 18:05

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