How we manage offenders
Some offenders are released from prison before the end of their sentence. Many are released on licence and it is only the most serious and dangerous offenders who go through the Parole Board process.
All offenders sentenced to more than 12 months in prison are released with restrictions on what they can and cannot do in the community. These restrictions are known as licence conditions and compliance with the conditions is supervised by Probation Service staff.
What is a 'licence'?
Some offenders are released from prison before the custodial part of their sentence is due to end. This means that although the offender is released from prison, they are still serving their sentence with conditions on their liberty.
The 'on licence' process helps offenders re-build their lives, return to their families and gain work approved by the person responsible for supervising them.
Conditions of a licence
There are a standard set of conditions as well as additional particular conditions that can be included to manage the risk the offender presents, for example:
restricting them from contacting named individuals such as previous associates or the victim of their crime
preventing them from living in a certain area
requiring them to undergo regular treatment such as drug testing or counselling
Public protection is an over-riding concern and licence conditions are designed to intensively reduce any risks to the public.
The offender released on licence will have a minimum of one contact per week for 16 weeks. Contact levels after that will be determined by the offender manager following an OASys review.
When an offender breaches their licence conditions they may be recalled to prison immediately. Depending on the circumstances the offender manager is able to exercise discretion on whether the offender is recalled to prison. When an offender is recalled to prison their case is reviewed. The offender will only be re-released if the Parole Board is satisfied that it is safe to do so and that the offender will stick to their licence conditions in the future.
The Parole Board
The Parole Board (new window) is an independent body which decides whether prisoners should be released early. Through a change brought in by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the Parole Board now only makes decisions about the most serious and dangerous offenders and sentences relating to public protection issues.
The Parole Board consider parole applications from prisoners. They will get a full dossier of reports on each offender, including OASys assessments and will usually meet in person to discuss the case in full.
As part of a criminal justice review document published earlier this year, NOMS wants to make sure that the Parole Board can really focus on dangerous offenders with fewer, but more significant, release decisions to make. This will allow the Board to consider their decisions even more carefully and NOMS would like the three-person Board to only release a prisoner on parole if their decision is reached unanimously. Consultation on this change is ongoing.