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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

If you are a determinate sentence recall prisoner, have you considered Executive Release?

There are steps that can be taken to ensure that 2017 is a productive year without any delay being caused.

If you are a determinate sentence recall prisoner, have you considered Executive Release?
Alongside the Parole Board having the power to direct re-release of a recalled determinate sentence prisoner, the Secretary of State also has the power to release prisoners.
The Secretary of State, who makes the referral to the Parole Board for the consideration of cases can, in certain situations, consider re-release without the need for referral to the Parole Board.
Executive release is an increasingly used power given the current backlog of cases before the Parole Board. It is available where there is clear support for re-release from your Offender Manager and Offender Supervisor.
 It is important to note that support does not guarantee that the Secretary of State will release you, as the decision is at the Secretary of State’s discretion. All decisions are made on a case by case basis, taking into account the particular circumstances of the recall and progress made in custody.
If you have previously been refused release by the Parole Board, there is no obligation for them to review your re-release for a period of 12 months. If during that 12-month period there has been a change in circumstances, for example the completion of offence focused work, steps can be taken to seek a referral of your case to the Secretary of State for re-release.
Alternatively, if you are in the early stages of or part way through a Parole Review and have support from your Offender Manager and Offender Supervisor, Executive Release may be a quicker way of securing your release.
Executive Release is often a process that is only instigated by Instructed Solicitors or proactive Offender Managers. A Prison Law Specialist can draft detailed representations and submit them on your behalf – requesting that the Executive Release process be considered.
Are you serving an IPP sentence and are looking to transfer to open?
As a result of the leading case of R (Guittard) v Secretary of State for Justice, it is now possible for IPP prisoners to be transferred to open conditions outside of the Parole process. If you have an upcoming Parole Review, a complete Parole dossier and all professionals are recommending open conditions, consideration of the Guittard Principles could allow for a smoother and quicker transition to the open estate by bypassing the Parole Board in the decision-making process.
Written representations can be drafted on your behalf by a Prison Law Specialist and can be Submitted; setting out why the criteria for a move under the Guittard Principles is appropriate in the circumstances.
As a determinate prisoner, have you got to grips with your Categorisation?
Understanding the re-categorisation process can be difficult and confusing but it will have a direct effect on your progression to less secure conditions, including the open estate. You should have a review between every six months to one year; dependent on the length of sentence that you are serving.
There are a number of complex procedures in place, which differ depending on which category prisoner you currently are but it is worth noting that advice and assistance is available by specialists should you need it. PSI 39/2011 and 40/2011 state that there is no automatic progression and that there must be clear evidence of a reduction in risk to a level manageable in an establishment of a lower category.
Representations can be submitted to ensure that the prison give full and careful consideration to your categorisation. We can also give consideration to refusals of re-categorisation to see if there are any grounds to appeal against decisions of the prison.
EDS Prisoner with an upcoming Parole Review?
Extended Determinate Sentences can be difficult to understand and are often seen as a complex sentence to be serving. Assistance is available by Prison Law specialists to explain whether you are subject to Parole and to assist you in the preparation of your Parole review.
This can include the preparation of written representations and representation at an Oral Hearing if necessary.
The Parole Board can only consider release into the community of determinate sentence prisoners and the test for release is as follows: ‘whether or not it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner should be confined.’
Good custodial behaviour, completion of core offending behaviour programmes with positive post-programme reports and a fully prepared risk management plan will assist in any application for release. It is therefore important to start thinking about how you would evidence an understanding of your risk factors and their management in the community.
IPP Prisoner seeking release on the papers?
In our last article, we explained that changes were being made to the Parole Board rules; including the power of the Parole Board to release IPP prisoners into the community without the need for an Oral
The Parole Board Rules 2016 came into force on 22nd November 2016 and the power to release IPP prisoners on the papers relates to Parole reviews commenced before and after that date.
It is envisaged that this power will be used for more straightforward cases, including technical breaches of licence which have resulted in the recall of IPP prisoners. However, it is important that the Parole Board are reminded of their new power and that representations submitted seeking release on the papers.
What can we do to help?
We would encourage all prisoners to contact us in relation to ongoing issues during their time in custody. Various issues are covered under the remit of Legal Aid; for those that are not we can offer competitive fees on a private paying basis.
If you need help or advice with any prison law issues please contact the Prison Law department at Hine Solicitors on 01865 518971
or FREEPOST – RTHU – LEKE – HAZR Hine Solicitors, Seymour House, 285Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7JF.
Inside times Jan 2017
Parole board projects that began post date Sept 2016 to reduce delays for prisoners.To address this problem.They have developed 4 trials that they are piloting until the end of March 2017:
  1. We will work closer with the Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS) to make more effective use of the option of ‘executive release’. Eligible cases will be considered for executive release at an earlier stage of the parole process, before a case is directed to an oral hearing. We hope this will reduce the number of cases waiting in the queue for an oral hearing date and allow prisoners to be released more quickly.
  3. We are extending the cut off point for determinate cases with an upcoming Sentence Expiry Date (SED). We currently conclude cases directed to oral hearing if the SED is within 12 weeks’ time of the oral hearing directions. This is because there is insufficient time to schedule an oral hearing before a prisoner will be automatically released. This will now be extended to 24 weeks.
  4. We will change the listing prioritisation framework so that prisoners who have 12 months or less before their SED will no longer be prioritised. This means most recall cases will no longer be listed ahead of other sentence types, resulting in a fairer system. A full review of the listings framework will take place by April 2017.
  6. We are looking into the possibility of using Ministry of Justice video link rooms across the UK to host hearings for determinate sentence prisoners. Currently, we can only host video link hearings at our London based office which limits our capacity. We hope that by creating regional hubs across the UK, more cases can be heard more swiftly.
  7. This will also hopefully ensure prisoners with determinate sentences will not be disadvantaged by the above pilots.
We are taking a flexible approach to these pilots and if any prisoners believe that they have exceptional circumstances that warrant prioritisation of their case they can write to the Parole Board. Such circumstances can include, but are not limited to, medical/mental health issues and/or compassionate reasons for example.


Year that opened with David Cameron championing prison reform as a great progressive cause in British politics ended with a record number of deaths, a high profile escape, staff walking out and Tornado teams quelling a series of major disturbances.

 The first six months saw Michael Gove promising the earth but delivering almost nothing; the second Liz Truss scrambling for funds and ideas to repair the damage inflicted on the prison service by her predecessors.

Her White Paper may not have lived up to its hype, but she quickly recognised that getting more staff onto the landings is a prerequisite for anything more ambitious. Having previously argued that prisons should be tough unpleasant and uncomfortable places, she makes an unlikely reformer but deserves the chance to fix the mess she inherited.

Truss baulked at Charlie Taylor’s extravagant plans to reconfigure youth justice and has so far resisted proposals to reduce the numbers of adults in prison- not surprisingly for a proponent of longer and tougher sentences. Ken Clarke, Nick Clegg and Jacqui Smith joined the list of politicians prescribing radical policies once they cease to have the power to implement them. Their call to halve the prison population received some support from Labour but they have form in calling for - and reneging on - a halt to the arms race on punishment. Michael Howard thinks it gravely irresponsible to slash prison numbers.  But even he says there might be room for modest reform.

Measures beneath the radar are probably the best we can hope for in 2017.The Sentencing Council could play a greater role in stabilising sentence lengths but problem solving courts seem to be on hold. It’s not clear how far the devolution agenda has to run in justice.

Probation could normally be expected to play a greater role in replacing prison but its reckless privatisation has left it struggling to cope with existing work let alone take on more. We will find out early next year if a review leads to contracts being torn up – or more likely tinkered with.

We are due a progress report too, on the 10,000 new prison places due to be built in  9 new prisons by 2020.  Don’t be surprised if these have been delayed. NOMS Chief Michael Spurr told the Justice Committee last month that it will be 2025 at least before prison cells hold only the number of prisoners for which  they were designed.   Prison reform may just about still be a great progressive cause -but it's a long term one. 


Brackenbury You could ask  Elizabeth Truss if she's happy to pay for my fiances funeral after his next knockback, because after 9 years of this I'm broke!


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