Testing a simplified Police Bail Notice in an effort to reduce the incidents of people failing to appear in court in accordance with the of terms of their Bail.

Mr Nathan Chapple, Mr Lance Tebbutt

1Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), Wellington, New Zealand
2Evidenced Based Policing – New Zealand Police, Wellington, New Zealand


Historically, around 14% of defendants released on police bail failed to attend court. As a result, a warrant to arrest is issued, which uses Police resources, increases the number of people in custody, and worsens defendants’ experiences of the justice system.

There are many drivers of court non-attendance, but research by The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and Police identified police bail notices as an area to improve attendance, as the current notice assumes a high reading age and does not emphasise the key information.

In an attempt to increase court attendance, a new version of the police bail notice was created. This new version uses behavioural science principles to encourage attendance.

In six (6) Police Custody Units throughout the country, half of the custody staff used the existing Police Bail Notice, whilst the remaining officers used the new version, with a measure of attendance being if a Warrant To Arrest was issued for non-appearance.

The trial ran for six (6) months from June to November 2020 with analysis of the data that was obtained as well as qualitative feedback from the first those being bailed and the custody officers using both versions of the Bail Notice.


Nathan Chappell is an advisor for the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), which is a global social impact company which focuses on behaviour change to improve wellbeing. Since joining BIT in April 2018, Nathan has led projects applying behavioural insights to: increase student attendance at high school, encourage jobseekers to get mental health support, prevent doctors from over-prescribing antibiotics, encourage defendants to appear in court, and prevent violence and aggression by the public toward ambulance staff. Prior to his work at BIT, Nathan worked as a researcher at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy and a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Economics, both from the University of Canterbury.