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Life Sentence Prisoners

Volume 205: debated on Monday 9 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has established the order in which existing discretionary life sentence prisoners, who are eligible for consideration under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, will have their cases considered by the Parole Board; and where the hearings will be held.

The hearings will be held in the establishments in which the prisoners concerned are located. It will be for the Parole Board to decide the order in which cases are heard. To assist it in this task, I will provide the board with a list of those eligible in each establishment in suggested order of priority for hearing. The lists will be prepared on the following basis.Prisoners due for a review under existing arrangements between now and 1 October, when the new provisions come into force, will be offered the opportunity to defer their reviews so that they can benefit from the new arrangements. Those who opt to defer will be at the top of the list, in original date order.Next will be any prisoner for whom the Parole Board has previously made a release recommendation which was not accepted. Thereafter, prisoners will be ranked in order of the month in which, under existing procedures, their next Parole Board review would have been due to commence. Where a number of cases rank equally in the same month, account will then be taken of the length of time served past expiry of the tariff period of sentence, with priority being give to those who have been detained longest. If further fine tuning within the same month is necessary, any prisoner who has previously been released on licence, but recalled to prison, will be placed below others who have previously been detained for the same length of time past tariff. Account will also be taken of any compassionate considerations indicating that an early hearing is appropriate.