Life Imprisonment

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, how many and what proportion of life-sentenced prisoners were (a) recommended or (b) not recommended for transfer to an open prison by their respective parole board in each of the last five years.

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

Outcomes of completed oral hearings conducted by the Parole Board are published in the latest Parole Board Annual Report available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/329169/parole-board-annual-report-2013-14.pdf

These figures are reproduced below.

Life sentenced prisoners

Year

Oral hearing outcome

Negative

Open

Release

2009/10

455

311

129

2010/11

338

579

263

2011/12

300

463

311

2012/13

241

481

397

2013/14

313

469

379

This table provides outcomes only in respect of oral hearings. The Parole Board also takes decisions on the papers and without convening oral hearings. One life sentence prisoner received a recommendation for open conditions following a paper review in 2010/11.

It is not possible to say how many were not recommended for transfer as negative outcomes include offenders who were already in open conditions and were refused release. Information on the location of a prisoner at the time of a review is not held centrally.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

The categorisation and allocation of an offender to an open prison is never an automatic progression, with public protection the paramount consideration in the decision-making process. Only those prisoners whose risks are assessed as manageable in conditions of low security will be allocated to an open prison.

Last year, we took decisive action to protect the public by changing the policy by which prisoners may be transferred to open conditions. As a result of a comprehensive review, we made major changes to tighten the eligibility for open prisons. Prisoners may no longer be transferred to open conditions or allowed out on temporary release if they have previously absconded, escaped, attempted to escape, or if they have failed to return or have re-offended whilst released on temporary licence, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

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