Political News Updates

15.06.2014

Prisoners' Release

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether ministerial approval is required for decisions to grant release on temporary licence for (a) all prisoners and (b) those that committed the most serious and violent crimes. [199527]

Jeremy Wright: Ministers do not approve individual decisions to release prisoners on temporary licence (ROTL). Decisions are taken by prison governors and directors, or their delegates, on behalf of the Secretary of State and in line with national guidance issued by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). This is in line with the 1994 and 2006 ROTL guidance.

We commissioned a review of ROTL policy and practice last year. We have introduced a new approach whereby high risk and serious offenders will be subjected to an enhanced regime of restricted ROTL under which temporary release decisions may be made only by the governor or deputy, and the board recommending the decision must consider a psychologist’s review report.

Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners were released on temporary licence in each of the last four years (a) on compassionate grounds or to receive medical treatment, (b) to engage in work, paid employment or volunatry work, (c) to receive instruction or training which is not available in prison, (d) to take part in court, tribunal or inquiry proceedings, (e) to consult with his legal adviser, where this cannot reasonably be done within the prison, (f) to help the police with their enquiries, (g) to facilitate the prisoner's transfer between prisons and (h) to help him maintain family ties or to ease the transition from prison life to freedom. [199533]

Jeremy Wright: Releases for each of the reasons (a) to (h) given in the question—which are the purposes for which temporary release may be authorised under the Prison Rules—are captured under one or other of the four types of temporary release. Data on the number of temporary releases by type of licence are published annually in table A3.10 of the Offender Management caseload statistics at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/offender-management-statistics-quarterly-october-december-2013-and-annual

The data for the last four years are as follows:

 

20101

2011

2012

2013

Total Releases

460,356

484,951

529,350

Special Purpose Licence

11,779

13,145

11,828

Resettlement Day Release

429,180

452,424

497,363

Childcare Resettlement Licence

211

251

226

Resettlement Overnight Release

19,186

19,131

19,933

1 A new prison database system was introduced mid 2009 which affected the supply of data for statistical purposes from July 2009 to February 2010. Therefore, data for 2010 cannot be provided and are left blank in the table above. Note: There are four types of temporary release: Resettlement day release—which allows people to train, work, maintain contact with their families and undertake general resettlement activities; Resettlement overnight release—which allows prisoners to spend time in the proposed release address; Childcare Resettlement Licence—which allows the release of sole carers of children under 16; and, Special purpose licence—which covers a range of necessary activities not linked to resettlement, such as medical treatment, attending funerals or indeed transferring between prisons, attending court or helping the police

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners who breached their temporary licence conditions in each of the last three years were granted further release on temporary licence. [199721]

Jeremy Wright: An answer to this question could be provided only at disproportionate cost. It would entail detailed checking of over 1,100 individual prisoner records relating to those who had breached conditions attached to their temporary release during this period in order to see whether they had subsequently been granted further temporary release.

The number of temporary release failures remains very low, less that one failure in every 1,000 releases and only around five failures in every 100,000 releases involve alleged offending; but we are keenly aware of understandable public concern about temporary release failures. Towards the end of May we accelerated our plans to improve release on temporary licence (ROTL) policy and practice. We brought forward aspects of the new "restricted ROTL" approach for serious offenders to safeguard the public, and the requirement that no ROTL can take place without a clearly defined, legitimate purpose. In addition, those who have failed to return from or offended on temporary release, or who have absconded or escaped from custody during the current sentence will now be refused temporary release in the absence of exceptional circumstances.