Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 2nd July 2015.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the longest period of time is that a serving prisoner can request to be absent from prison for any reason.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

All applications for temporary release are now considered under the revised regime that we have introduced over the past 18 months, and which requires all resettlement ROTL to be identified in sentence planning as well as bringing improvements in risk assessment, monitoring and consistency of practice across all prisons.

Prisoners may apply for release on temporary licence (ROTL) only for activities that have been identified as in line with their agreed, individual sentence or resettlement plans; or in exceptionally compelling circumstances, such as a visit to a dying close relative. The duration is limited to what is required to conduct the agreed activity and the majority of releases are measured in hours. The maximum duration for the various types of release on temporary licence is set out in national guidance.

There is provision for offenders selected for the national Community Service Volunteers (CSV) scheme special programme for offenders to be released for up to 4 weeks. The offender must be in or suitable for open conditions and be within three months of their release date. These placements are only granted under strict conditions, and as such, very rarely. In addition to applying all the usual risk and suitability assessments, before authorizing release, the governor must determine that the resettlement benefits outweigh the impact on public confidence of that particular offender being on temporary release for a lengthy period. CSV placements are governed by a memorandum of understanding between prison governor, offender manager, offender and the CSV placement organiser with specific monitoring and review arrangements.

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