Prisoners sentenced to a standard determinate custodial sentence must be released automatically at the halfway point of their sentence and serve the second half on licence. Those sentenced to at least 12 weeks but less than four years may be released on Home Detention Curfew (HDC) up to 135 days before the halfway point, depending on sentence length.
HDC is a robust scheme which allows suitable, risk assessed, prisoners to work towards rehabilitation in the community, while remaining subject to strict monitoring and other conditions. If they breach these, they can be returned to custody. HDC allows reintegration back into the community in a controlled and supervised way, which research suggests may help to reduce the risk of further offending.
Between 2007 and 2010, a further scheme operated which also allowed for early release before the halfway point of sentence – the End of Custody Licence (ECL) scheme. This allowed certain adult prisoners to be released 18 days before their normal halfway release point. It was brought to an end in March 2010.
Children sentenced to a Detention and Training Order (DTO) serve the first half in custody, and the second half in the community. Most children serving a DTO of 8 months or more can be released one or two months earlier (depending on the DTO length) than the normal mid-point of sentence.
The attached table shows the number of offenders released early under the Home Detention Curfew, End of Custody Licence and Detention and Training Order early release schemes in each year since 2007, and the proportion of all prisoners released who were released under each scheme.
Prisoners may also be released early before having served half the sentence under the Early Removal Scheme (ERS). Under this scheme offenders liable to removal from the United Kingdom who have served at least a quarter of the sentence may be released before the halfway appoint solely in order to facilitate their deportation. Prisoners may also be released early on compassionate grounds (ERCG) before they have served half the sentence. Relevant data on releases under ERS and ERCG are not collated centrally.