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Prisoners: Early Release

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many early release offenders who have been recalled since June 2007 are still at large; what steps are being taken to apprehend them; and what offences they were convicted of. (198621)

The end of custody licence was introduced on 29 June 2007. Eligible prisoners serving between four weeks and four years may be released under licence from prison up to up to 18 days before their automatic release date.

All prisoners released on ECL are liable to recall if they are reported to have misbehaved during the period of the licence. A decision to recall an offender from ECL lies with the governors of establishments, and it is the responsibility of the establishments to ensure the police are notified that the prisoner's ECL licence has been revoked and the offender is to be returned to custody.

Between 29 June 2007 and 29 February 2008, 745 offenders were notified as recalled, following their release on ECL. This equates to 4 per cent. of those released on ECL. As of 21 March 2008, 612 (82 per cent.) of these offenders had been returned to custody, while 133 (18 per cent.) had not yet been returned to custody. The offences for which those 133 offenders were convicted, are listed in the following table:

Offence category

Number

Violent offences against the person

38

Burglary

36

Robbery

4

Theft

51

Fraud

5

Drug

9

Driving

9

Other

52

The police local to the area where the offender was living will be notified of the recall of the offender by the Governor of the releasing establishment. Arrest and return to custody of those offenders is an operational matter for the police.

Information about end of custody licence releases and recalls is published on a monthly basis on the Ministry of Justice website at

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/endofcustodylicence.htm

The latest report was published on 31 March and refers to February as the reporting month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effects on prisoners of being released early. (202319)

During the year 2006-07 there were 4,285 offenders subject to Post Release Licence (offenders serving 12 months or more and those under 22 years of age). Of these 246 (5.7 per cent.) were recalled following an allegation of a further offence.

The Home Detention Curfew Scheme (HOC) began in 1999. It is applied to prisoners serving sentences of between three months and under four years who meet the eligibility criteria. It allows prisoners to live outside prison providing they do not breach the rules of their curfew. Approximately 148,000 prisoners have been released on HDC since the scheme began. 85 per cent. complete their curfew successfully. About 4 per cent. are reported to re-offend during the curfew period.

The End of Custody Licence Scheme (ECL) came into effect on 29 June 2007. Prisoners serving sentences of four weeks or more but less than four years who meet the eligibility criteria are released under licence up to 18 days earlier than they would otherwise be released. Between 29 June 2007 and 31 March 2008 about 23,700 prisoners have been released under the scheme. Of those released NOMS have been notified that about 3 per cent. have been recalled and just 1 per cent. have been notified as allegedly offending during the ECL period.

All prisoners who are subject to HDC/ECL including those who are not subject to Post Release Licence are liable to recall if they are reported to have misbehaved during the HDC/ECL period.

During the HDC/ECL period offenders who are subject to Post-Release Licence are required to meet their Offender Manager after release and to have regular contact after that in line with Probation Service National Standards. During the HDC/ECL period prisoners are encouraged to seek employment and training and to engage with relevant community resources. These measures apply only to those who have accommodation to go to.