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Prisoners’ Discharge Grants

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 25 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners who had been in custody for less than 14 days received discharge grants upon release in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; and how many days the offender had spent in custody in each case. (281956)

Prison Service Order (PSO) 6400 (Discharge) stipulates that, to be eligible for a discharge grant, prisoners must have been given a custodial sentence of more than 14 days.

Following the introduction of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, prisoners serving sentences of one year or less were to be released at the halfway point of their sentence. The National Offender Management Service has recently become aware that, in the light of this, PSO 6400 was not sufficiently clear and its original intention has been open to possible misinterpretation. Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 21/2009, issued on 9 June 2009, clarifies that a prisoner must serve a sentence of which the custodial period is more than 14 days to be eligible for a discharge grant.

Information on the number of prisoners who may have been paid a discharge grant in error, having spent 14 days or less in custody, is not held centrally and could be obtained only by examining the individual records of discharged prisoners at disproportionate cost.