Prisoners: Voting Rights

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 4th July 2018.

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Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent changes the Government has made to prisoners’ voting rights; and what guidance has been issued on that subject to (a) prison governors and (b) prisoners in England and Wales.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

In November, the Government set out to Parliament the administrative changes it proposed to make to address the 2005 Hirst judgment on prisoner voting rights, while maintaining the general bar on convicted prisoners in custody from voting. These changes addressed an anomaly in the previous guidance where offenders released back into the community on licence using an electronic tag under the Home Detention Curfew scheme could vote, but those who were in the community following Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) could not. Under the new guidance, those on ROTL will no longer be barred from voting.

Guidance was recently issued to prison governors in England and Wales to inform them of this policy change. This was accompanied by a leaflet for prisoners informing them of their voting rights.

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