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Prisoners: Release on Licence

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recent guidance has been issued to the probation service in connection with the monitoring of offenders released on licence from prison.[HL6886]

Probation circular 16/2005, issued in March 2005, sets out the guidance that the National Probation Directorate has issued in respect of the arrangements for release of offenders on licence. A copy of the circular is available from the Library. An offender manager (probation officer) is required to supervise every offender released from prison on licence, in accordance with standard and additional licence conditions prescribed in a statutory instrument and in accordance with national standards.

The circular also sets out the process to be followed when offenders are in breach of their licence conditions under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. All prisoners serving a custodial sentence are released on licence and subject to supervision of the probation service. Such prisoners are subject to six standard licence conditions which require him to place himself under the supervision of his supervising officer; keep in touch as instructed; if required receive visits where he is living; reside only where approved; not travel outside the United Kingdom without prior permission; and behave well and not do anything which would undermine the purpose of supervision on licence, which is to protect the public and to secure his successful reintegration into the community.

In the event that any such licence conditions are breached, the offender is liable to be recalled to prison on the recommendation of the probation officer, to protect the public and prevent any further reoffending. In April 2005, revised national standards were issued, setting out the minimum requirements for offender managers supervising offenders released on licence from prison. The requirements cover the timing of the initial contact with offenders and of the production of sentence plans, together with the frequency of contact with offenders and the time limit for enforcement action for any breach of licence conditions, according to offenders' assessed risk of harm. Offenders assessed as high or very high risk of harm will be seen more frequently.