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Volume 952: debated on Friday 23 June 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the terms of the licence under which life prisoners are released on parole.

Every life sentence prisoner released on licence is initially required, under the terms of his licence, to place himself under the supervision of a probation officer nominated for that purpose; to keep in touch with the probation officer in accordance with that officer's instructions; to receive visits, if required, from the probation officer at the address where he is living; and to notify the probation officer of changes of address and employment. These conditions have been agreed with the Parole Board in accordance with the provisions of Sections 61(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1967. Additional conditions, which are also agreed with the Board, may be added in individual cases.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases in the last 10 years a life prisoner released on parole committed a further crime which itself could attract a life sentence; and when any such cases occurred.

So far as is known, during the years 1968–77 inclusive 10 persons who had been released on licence from sentences of life imprisonment were convicted of such offences committed while they were at liberty. Details are as follows:

YearNumber again sentenced to life imprisonmentNumber sentenced to determinate periods of imprisonment

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners there are at present serving life sentences in Her Majesty's pri sons; and how many of these are held at present in open prisons.

On 30th April 1978, the latest date for which figures are available, the numbers for England and Wales were 1,366 and 64 respectively. These figures include persons detained during Her Majesty's pleasure under Section 53(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 or for life under Section 53(2) of that Act but not persons who had previously been released on licence and subsequently recalled to prison.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases, in each of the last five years, where a life prisoner was released on licence the trial judge made a recommendation as to the minimum length of the sentence that should be served; and in how many such cases the trial judge's recommendations were not followed.

The court's statutory power to recommend a minimum period of detention for a life sentence prisoner applies only to cases of murder.During the years 1973–77, inclusive, no persons in respect of whom such recommendations had been made were released on licence. Three have been released this year, after consultation with the Lord Chief Justice and, where he was available, the trial judge. They were detained for periods shorter than those recommended.