To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated increase in Parole Board resources required to ensure that all prisoners serving indeterminate sentences for public protection have hearings at the appropriate times; and what is the estimated annual cost of providing that increase. [HL5441]
The Government accept that it is important for all prisoners to have parole hearings at an acceptable time and as such are working with the Parole Board to increase the resources available to it. The board’s budget has been increased by 18 per cent for 2009-10, and a recently concluded recruitment campaign has seen 35 new members appointed to the board. A new parole process was set up on 1 April, which includes robust performance monitoring for all agencies contributing to the parole process; each agency involved in the process is committed to making the process work more effectively and to using appropriate levers to improve performance. The Parole Board rules have also been amended to allow the board greater flexibility in its use of its membership resources to deliver hearings, and the chair of the board is working with the management team to identify ways in which procedures can be made more efficient and hearing times more productive. The additional net cost of these measures is estimated at £2.5 million.
The Government also published a consultation paper, The future of the Parole Board, on 20 July seeking the views of all those involved in the parole process as to how best the board should be managed to ensure its independence from the Executive and to enable it to operate in as effective and efficient way as possible. Consultation closes on 20 November.