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Prison Sentences

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence for public protection have been set a tariff of (a) less than 12 months, (b) between 12 months and two years and (c) over two years; (257468)

(2) how many prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence for public protection who have served sentences longer than their tariff have served (a) fewer than six months, (b) between six months and one year and (c) more than one year over their tariff.

The number of prisoners in custody on 12 February 2009 serving an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection broken down by length of tariff is as follows:

Number of prisoners

Awaiting confirmation of tariff

329

Tariff less than 12 months

253

Tariff 12 months to two years

1,122

Tariff over two years

3,355

Total

5,059

The number of prisoners in custody serving an indeterminate sentence for public protection longer than their tariff on 12 February 2009 was 1,487. This is broken down as follows:

Number of prisoners

Past tariff by fewer than six months

525

Past tariff six to 12 months

394

Past tariff 12 months or more

568

Total

1,487

These figures are taken from the National Offender Management Service’s records. As with any large scale recording system, it is subject to possible errors arising from either data entry or processing.

The tariff is the minimum period which an indeterminate sentenced prisoner must serve for punishment and deterrence. It is for the independent Parole Board to determine whether to direct the release of an indeterminate sentenced prisoner once his tariff has expired, based on all relevant information as to the risk of harm which the prisoner presents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners are serving (a) life sentences and (b) other indeterminate sentences. (257470)

At the end of December 2008 there were 4,963 prisoners serving indeterminate sentences for public protection in all prison establishments in England and Wales, and 7,031 serving life sentences.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.