- The Parole Board and parole reviews
- Do I need to have a parole review for release?
- The Generic Parole Process – an overview
- Can I get help with my parole review?
- Pre-tariff sift and pre-tariff review
- Your parole dossier
- Member Case Assessment
- Oral hearings
- Public Parole hearings
- Adjournments and Deferrals
- The decision
- Suitability for Open Conditions for ISPs
- Reconsideration of Parole Board Decisions
- Power to set aside directions
- What happens if the Parole Board directs release?
- Contacting The Parole Board
- Complaints to the Parole Board
- Further information
What is the Parole Board?
The Parole Board is the organisation that undertakes parole reviews. It is a court-like body which is independent from the Ministry of Justice.
Parole Board members make decisions about who can be safely released to serve the rest of their sentence in the community.
The Board makes recommendations to the Secretary of State about suitability for a move to open conditions for Indeterminate Sentenced Prisoners (ISPs).
What is a Parole review?
Parole reviews are held to make decisions about the following:
- deciding whether to release indeterminate sentence prisoners on or after the end of their tariff
- deciding whether to release some categories of determinate-sentenced prisoners
- deciding whether some recalled prisoners should be re-released
- advising the Secretary of State whether some indeterminate-sentenced prisoners should progress to an open prison
- advising on any other matter relating to release or recall that the Secretary of State refers to the Board
If you are looking for information about parole reviews in recall cases please see our separate information sheet about ‘Licence conditions and recall’.
Do I need to have a parole review for release?
If you are serving an indeterminate sentence your release will be subject to review by the Parole Board after you have served your tariff.
You have an indeterminate sentence if you are serving:
- a life sentence.
- an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence.
- a Detention for Public Protection (DPP) sentence.
If you have one of the following determinate sentences you will have a parole eligibility date (PED). This is the date from which you may be released on licence by the Parole Board before your automatic release date, should the Board decide your risk has reduced to a level that can be managed safely in the community:
- sentences of 4 years or more for a violent or sexual offence, imposed under the Criminal Justice Act 1991. PED is at the halfway point of the custodial term;
- Extended Public Protection (EPP) sentences imposed before 14 July 2008 under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. PED is at the halfway point of the custodial term;
- Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) prisoners sentenced pursuant to section 226A or 226B of the CJA 2003 who are eligible for release by the Parole Board at two-thirds point of the custodial term under s246A CJA 2003. (From 13 April 2015 this includes all EDS sentences imposed on or after that date. For those sentences imposed before that date only those sentenced to 10 years or more or who were being sentenced for offence under Schedule 15B of the CJA 2003 will attract discretionary release by the Parole Board).
- Sentence for Offenders of Particular Concern (SOPC) under s.236A of the CJA 2003. It applies to offenders sentenced on or after 13 April 2015 who have committed a qualifying offence from the updated Schedule 18A of the CJA 2003. They are eligible for release by the Parole Board at the halfway point of the custodial term and have a guaranteed one year on licence after release at CRD.
- Standard determinate sentences for a terrorist or terrorism related offence as listed in the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act 2020. PED is at the two thirds point of the custodial term.
The Generic Parole Process – an overview
This section give a general overview of the stages of a parole review. There is more information about each stage below.
When will my parole review be?
If you are serving a relevant determinate sentence (see above) your first parole review will start 6 months before your Parole Eligibility Date. If you are not released at that review, a date will be set for a further review unless you are automatically released before then. The time set for your next review will depend on the sentence you are serving and your sentence plan.
If you are serving an indeterminate sentence your first parole review should start 6 months before your tariff expires. This is your on-tariff review. If you are not released at that review, you will have a further post-tariff review at least every 24 months.
If you are serving an indeterminate sentence you will also be subject to a pre-tariff sift which could result in a transfer to an open prison 3 years before your Tariff End Date (TED). There is more information about this on page 9.
In the weeks before the parole process starts the following things should happen:
- The Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS) within HMPPS will write to you to let you know that the parole process is about to start and to advise that you should provide the prison OMU with the details of your legal representative, if you have one. This will allow the prison OMU to provide your legal representative with the key dates for your parole review.
- The PPCS compile the core dossier which contains the required reports about your sentence, offending history, progression and any other important and relevant information that is available. There is more information about your parole dossier on page 11.
- The PPCS will request prisons and probation provide up to date reports about your time in prison. They will also highlight outstanding issues from previous reviews if this is a further review.
- The PPCS will disclose the dossier to you and the Parole Board at the same time. They will set out what the Parole Board is being asked to do – this is called the referral and the terms of review.
Some indeterminate sentence prisoners will have a pre-tariff review, which will follow the same process as above, but cannot lead to release.
The Parole window
The Generic Parole Process starts from your referral and goes on until the date of your hearing. During this period:
- Prison and probation reports are completed and added to the dossier which is then disclosed.
- You can submit personal or legal representation.
- There will be an initial review called a Member Case Assessment (MCA). There is more information about this on page 13. Your case may be decided on the papers at the MCA stage. If the decision is negative you have a further 28 days to request an oral hearing, if you believe you should have one.
- If your case is directed to an oral hearing, at MCA stage or following a request for an oral hearing, witnesses will be contacted and your oral hearing date arranged.
There is a detailed description of the Generic Parole Process, including what should have happened by when, in section 3.6 (p.15-21) of the Generic Parole Process Policy Framework.
It is important to be aware that the Generic Parole Process is a policy of the Secretary of State and the Parole Board are not legally bound to conclude a review to any particular time limit.
The Parole Board must let the prison, your community offender manager and your legal representative know its decision within 14 days of the MCA, or the end of the oral hearing if there is one. The prison must provide you with a copy within one day of receiving it.
Can I get help with my parole review?
You are strongly advised to ask a legal representative to help you with your parole review.
Ask prison staff for details of legal representatives for you to contact.
You can also find information about legal representatives in Inside Time newspaper or by calling Prison Reform Trust’s Advice and Information Service (see final page of this booklet for details).
If you cannot pay for legal advice you may be eligible for legal aid. This means you will get legal representation for free. A legal representative will be able to check this for you and make the necessary application on your behalf.
If you cannot get a legal representative for any reason, you could also ask a friend or someone else to be your ‘representative’.
This person cannot be someone in prison, on licence or with an unspent offence. They cannot be someone who is being held under the Mental Health Act.
You may find the following guides useful,
- Easy Read guide to help prisoners with their parole review
- Easy Read guide to help prisoners prepare for their oral hearing
- The Parole Board booklet “Getting ready for a parole review without a lawyer – What you need to know”
If you would like us to send you a copy of any of these, please contact our service using the contact details at the end of this booklet.
Pre-tariff sift and pre-tariff review
This section applies to indeterminate sentences only.
The pre-tariff sift
A pre-tariff sift is a decision made by the Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS) following a Sentence Planning Review Meeting (SPRM). The decision is about whether to refer your case to the Parole Board for a pre-tariff review. For PPCS to refer your case there must be a reasonable prospect of the Parole Board making a positive recommendation that you progress to open conditions.
The SPRM should take place 2 months before a pre-tariff review would be expected to begin. You should be told of the date of the pre-tariff sift in advance so you can prepare. You should also be given copies of reports that will be considered.
During the SPRM, staff will look at evidence which suggests that there is a reasonable chance of a positive decision being made by the Parole Board if you are referred for a pre-tariff review. The SPRM report is then sent to the PPCS for consideration.
If PPCS consider that your case has a reasonable prospect of the Parole Board making a positive recommendation, they will then refer to the Parole Board for a pre-tariff review to consider a transfer to open conditions. You should be aware that very few cases are referred by PPCS to the Parole Board.
If it is decided that there is no reasonable prospect that the Parole Board would make a positive decision, then your case will not be referred for a pre-tariff review. Clear reasons for this decision should be recorded.
Some factors may mean that your case is presumed unsuitable for referral to the Parole Board. The Generic Parole Process Policy Framework (at 5.4.6) lists the following:
- Exclusion from open criteria is met (see constraint paragraph 4.6.1)
- Category A status;
- OASys assessment of high/very high risk of harm;
- A proven adjudication for serious violence within the last 12 months
However, if there are exceptional circumstances a referral could still be made.
PPCS will send you a copy of the decision in writing within 10 working days of receiving the SPRM record. If you do not agree with the decision, you can make a complaint using the internal complaints procedure.
You can also speak to a legal adviser about whether there is enough merit in your case to challenge the refusal by PPCS to refer your case to the Parole Board. You can contact Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS) using the details below.
The pre-tariff review
A pre-tariff review is a review by the Parole Board about whether to recommend you for transfer to open conditions in advance of your TED. It only takes place in cases which have been referred to the Parole Board following a pre-tariff sift.
A pre-tariff review should start 3 years before your tariff expiry date. It generally follows the generic parole process as described above on pages 6-7.
The Parole Board can only advise about your suitability for open conditions. The final decision will be made by the PPCS, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State.
If you would like further advice you can also contact PAS on 020 7253 3323, 10am-12.30pm and 2pm-4.30pm, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Your parole dossier
What information is considered/ my dossier?
The following information will be included in your dossier for the Parole Board to consider:
- Reports written by prison and probation staff.
- Reports by other staff such as a psychologist or chaplain.
- Reports from courses or interventions you have undertaken.
- Information about your current and previous offences.
- Judges sentencing remarks or comments.
- Healthcare reports, if needed.
- Prison security or intelligence reports may be included.
- There may be a statement from the victim or their family.
- Any representations you have included.
How do I make representations?
You can send written information to the Parole Board to go in your dossier. These are call ‘representations’.
You should ask your legal representative for help with your written representations. If you cannot get a legal representative, you can ask someone else you know to help you.
Representations should be submitted directly to the Parole Board. This should be done within 4 weeks from the date the dossier is referred to the Parole Board by PPCS.
In your representations you should include:
- Why you think you are ready to be released or moved to open conditions.
- Why you think you are less of a risk to the public.
- The good things you have done in prison, such as education, offending behaviour courses or responsible jobs you have done.
- What you think about the information in your dossier, including if you think something is wrong or if information is missing.
- Whether you think your case should have an oral hearing.
- If there are witnesses who you want to attend and give information about you.
What to do if something in my dossier is incorrect?
If something is wrong in your dossier, you can let the Parole Board know in your representations (see above).
You could speak to your Prison Offender Manager (POM) about this. You could also consider using the internal complaints process if needed.
The prison should try to check the information you are concerned about. If the information is proved to be incorrect, then they should change or delete it. If there is a fact, or opinion in your file you disagree with they should make a note on your record that you do not agree with the information.
There is more information about challenging inaccurate records and how to get a copy of your record in the Prisoners’ Advice Service’s information sheet ‘Data Protection Act’.
In exceptional circumstances, information may not be shared with you as part of your dossier. This is called non-disclosure.
This is because it considered to be in the interests of one or more of the following:
- National security
- The prevention of crime and disorder
- The health or welfare of yourself or any other person
There is more information about non-disclosure in PSI 15/2016 Handling Of Sensitive Information, Including Information Provided By Victims, For The Purpose Of Parole Board Reviews.
Member Case Assessment (also called ‘on the papers’)
The first stage of a parole review is called a Member Case Assessment (MCA). This is when a Parole Board member reads your dossier to see if there is enough information to make a decision. This is sometimes called making a decision ‘on the papers’.
This is usually done by one Parole Board member but it can sometimes be a multi-member MCA panel.
At this stage they can:
- Direct your release on the papers
- Make a negative decision, which means they decide not to release you at this time
- Recommend a transfer to open conditions in some cases, if you are eligible
- Decline to recommend that you are transferred to open conditions
- Decide that an oral hearing is needed to hear from you in person or from other witnesses
You will receive a written letter about what decision has been made at this stage.
If you are given a negative decision, it is only provisional and you have 28 days from the date the decision was issued to ask for an oral hearing. You or your solicitor can do this by writing to the Parole Board.
If you do not ask for an oral hearing within 28 days, and if you are serving a qualifying sentence, there are a further 21 days during which the decision remains provisional to allow prisoners or PPCS on behalf of the Secretary of State to submit an application to the Parole Board to have the decision reconsidered. There is more information about the reconsideration mechanism on page 18.
Following this, if no oral hearing or reconsideration (if you are eligible) has been requested, the decision becomes final. You will stay in prison until you are eligible for a further parole review or released automatically under the conditions of your sentence where applicable.
Arranging the oral hearing
When it is decided that an oral hearing is needed, the Parole Board will find a date that everyone can attend. The Parole Board list hearings three months in advance. For example, in January they plan and list hearings for April.
What happens during an oral hearing?
The Parole Board will allocate a panel of members to hear your case. Sometimes panels are only one Parole Board member, but there can also be a panel of between two to four members doing it. One member will be in charge and is called the ‘chair’.
For some cases, a specialist member is needed. This could be a psychologist or psychiatrist.
If the hearing takes place in the prison, it will take place in a private room.
When the panel do not come to the prison, they will conduct the hearing using a video link or telephone. This is referred to as a remote hearing. This means witnesses at the prison will see the panel on a TV screen or listen to them over a telephone. Other witnesses may also ask to join in using a video or telephone link.
During the hearing, the panel members will ask you questions about the things you have done to address your offending behaviour whilst you have been in prison and what your plans would be if you are released.
The panel will also speak to other people about your case. These people are called witnesses. They are people who know you and have something to say about your circumstances. This is to get more information and evidence to make their decision.
Panel members will take notes about things that you and other witnesses say. Oral hearings will be recorded with a microphone.
Who else can attend an oral hearing?
There may also be people who are observing the oral hearing. You can ask for someone to observe your oral hearing, such as a member of your family or friend if that will be helpful for you. Other people may also ask to attend as observers, but you will be notified of this and can give your views to the panel. The panel “chair” will make the final decision about the attendance of an observer.
Sometimes the victim of the crime or a member of their family will attend. They can only read out a previously prepared message called a Victim Personal Statement (VPS). They cannot ask questions or participate in your hearing and will usually leave once they have read out their statement.
You can decide before the hearing if you want to stay in the room during this part of the hearing. The victim can also say what their preference is about you staying or not and the “chair” will make the final decision about this. Quite often the victim will read out their statement via a video link or over the telephone and will not come to the prison. In some cases, the VPS will be read out by someone else on behalf of the victim.
Public parole hearings
From 21 July 2022, parole hearings can be held in public if an application has been made and the Parole Board decides to allow it.
Prisoners, victims, the media or the wider public may make an application.
Once an application is received, the Chair of the Parole Board will invite representations from parties involved in the case including the prisoner, the Secretary of State and victims.
The Chair of the Board will assess each application taking into consideration the factors described on the following page. Once the Chair has made a decision, the Parole Board will publish its decision.
Any application for an oral hearing to be held in public may not be made later than 12 weeks before the date allocated for the oral hearing.
The guidance also says the following:
The normal position will be for parole hearings to remain in private. This is because it is of paramount importance that witnesses are able to give their best evidence in an environment where open and honest discussion can take place.
Furthermore, evidence may relate to highly personal matters including serious medical conditions and evidence that may be distressing to victims. This frank and honest evidence is essential to inform effective decision making. A public hearing might compromise the Parole Board’s ability to carry out its core function, which is to assess risk on all the evidence, if this frank and honest evidence cannot be taken. If that is the case, it might impair effective decision making.
There must be a good reason or reasons to justify a departure from the general rule. Applicants will need to set out their reasons in writing as to why it is in the interests of justice that the case should be heard in public as opposed to remaining in private.
Victims will also have the right to apply to observe a Parole hearing, which will still be held in private. At present, there is a test taking place for this in one region, with plans for this to be rolled out nationally.
What will be considered when deciding if a hearing should be public?
The guidance gives a list of examples of factors that may be relevant to the decision:
- whether there are any particular special features in the case (which set it apart from other cases) which may add to proper public understanding of the Parole system and public debate about it and which particularly warrant a public hearing.
- the wishes of the victim(s).
- any risks of undue emotional stress and/or re-traumatisation of the victims including an adverse effect upon the mental health of the victim or the victim’s family in the short or long term.
- the victim’s right to attend parts of the hearing in any event.
- the (informed) wishes of the prisoner.
- any particular vulnerability of the prisoner by reason of age and/or mental disorder.
- any risks to the safety of the prisoner.
- any risks of undue emotional stress to the prisoner.
- the Parole Board’s power to exclude witnesses from the hearing and/or hold part of the proceedings in private where evidence is especially personal, confidential or sensitive.
- any difficulties in confining personal, confidential or sensitive to a private part of the hearing.
- any proper concerns about the quality of evidence including the importance of witnesses (including the prisoner) having the ability to give their best evidence
- any significant risks of inhibiting open and honest discussion during the hearing.
- the availability of summaries to the public in any event.
- the ability to make practical arrangements for a public hearing without a disproportionate burden upon the Parole Board.
Adjournments and Deferrals
Panels can decide to adjourn or defer completion of a case if it is necessary to do so. This will likely result in some delay to your parole review.
To adjourn means to postpone completion of the review to a specified future date with the same panel retaining responsibility; the panel will have reviewed the parole papers or taken some evidence at an oral hearing.
To defer means to postpone completion of the case to a fresh panel at a future date. The panel will have not started reviewing the case.
When deciding whether an adjournment or deferral is necessary, panels will consider:
- if extra information is needed and when this information will be available by
- if the information is likely to affect a decision about the need for an oral hearing or is likely to influence the eventual parole outcome.
If not, then a decision to adjourn or defer should generally be avoided, as this can cause unnecessary delay to a review.
Adjournments and deferrals should not usually be more than four months from the date of the panel unless there are exceptional circumstances.
You might wish to ask the panel to defer or adjourn your case if there is something important that you need to complete or provide to help your case. The panel will consider your request as mentioned above.
There is more information about this in the Parole Board Adjournments and deferrals guidance July 2020
What are decisions based on?
This is the release test set out in law that the Parole Board must follow when making decisions:
‘The Parole Board must not give a direction for release unless the Board is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the person should be confined”
To make this decision, they will be looking for evidence of how you have reduced the risk of serious harm from the time the offence was committed to now, such as:
- What was the situation that led to your offending?
- Have you learnt from what happened?
- Have you addressed any issues that may have contributed? (i.e. drugs and alcohol dependency)
- How would you act differently?
- Have you done any programmes?
- What has your behaviour been like in custody?
They will also be looking at the risk management plan for your release. They will look at things like:
- How will you cope?
- Where will you live?
- What support do you have?
- Will you have a job?
- What is your relationship like with your community offender manager?
- Will you be honest and open?
- What licence conditions are being proposed to manage your risk in the community?
In order to explain this more easily, the Parole Board has produced a Decision-making Framework. You can ask someone in the prison to give you a copy or contact our Advice and Information Service using the information at the back of this document.
The Parole Board must let the prison, PPCS, your community offender manager and your legal representative know their decision within 14 days of the end of the oral hearing. The prison should give you a copy of the decision within one day of receipt.
When the parole review is finished, anyone can ask for a summary of your parole decision. This includes victims and journalists. These summaries are called ‘summary decision letters’ or ‘PBDS’.
Suitability for open conditions for indeterminate sentences
On 6 June, the Secretary of State introduced the following test for considering whether someone serving an indeterminate sentence is suitable for open conditions:
Suitability for Open Conditions Test
The Secretary of State (or an official with delegated responsibility) will accept a recommendation from the Parole Board (to approve an ISP for open conditions) only where:
- the prisoner is assessed as low risk of abscond; and
- a period in open conditions is considered essential to inform future decisions about release and to prepare for possible release on licence into the community; and
- a transfer to open conditions would not undermine public confidence in the Criminal Justice System.
Under previous policy there was no requirement for time in open conditions to be ‘essential’ to prepare for possible release, or an explicit requirement to consider what would ‘undermine public confidence’. This will make it more difficult to get a positive decision and will mean that fewer ISPs will go to open conditions.
Who decides if my case meets the criteria of the new test?
The Parole Board
The Parole Board will only be considering whether the first two criteria apply when making their recommendation.
Before recommending that an ISP be transferred to open conditions, the Parole Board must be satisfied that the first two criteria of the open test are met.
The Parole Board is not required to assess whether the third criteria of the open test, the public confidence criteria, has been met.
The Secretary of State
Where the Parole Board recommends a move to open conditions, the Secretary of State is responsible for deciding whether to accept or reject this recommendation.
As part of this, the Secretary of State will consider whether all three parts of the new test have been met. This includes the third criteria about public confidence which will be a matter solely for the Secretary of State or his delegated official.
What would be considered essential?
There has not been a definition published of what would make a period in open conditions considered ‘essential’. However, staff may consider the following:
- whether you can access the necessary risk reduction and rehabilitation opportunities within the closed estate, such as employment or volunteering roles and Progression Regimes.
- how you can evidence your ability to act responsibly, comply with prison regimes and engage with sentence plan objectives within the closed estate. Where there are opportunities for development within the closed estate, these should be clearly outlined within the report, including timescales for completion.
- any opportunities that will only be available in open conditions;
- the benefits a move to open conditions would provide you, particularly if you have served a significant period of time in custody; and
- whether the level of need for a move to open conditions would change should the Parole Board refuse release into the community, for example there may be opportunities available in the community and open conditions which are not available in a closed prison.
Which cases would undermine public confidence?
There is currently no definition or further guidance about what kind of cases would be considered to ‘undermine public confidence’.
Reconsideration of Parole Board Decisions
Where the Parole Board makes a decision regarding release, in some cases the decision will remain provisional for 21 calendar days from the date of issue to allow prisoners or PPCS on behalf of the Secretary of State to submit an application to the Parole Board to have the decision reconsidered. Otherwise the decision will be final once the 21 calendar days have expired.
A decision regarding a recommendation for open conditions is not eligible for reconsideration.
Types of prison sentence this applies to:
The reconsideration mechanism applies to prisoners serving:
- indeterminate sentences (Life or IPP)
- extended sentences
- certain determinate sentences where the initial release is at the discretion of the Parole Board (Discretionary Conditional Release (DCR) cases and Sentences for Offenders of Particular Concern (SOPC))
- Sentences to which the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act 2020 applies
It will also apply to recalled prisoners serving these sentences.
Who can apply for reconsideration?
Only the prisoner or the Secretary of State can apply to the Parole Board for reconsideration.
However, a victim or member of the public can also make a case to the Secretary of State to ask for a decision to be reconsidered, if there is a serious concern about the decision. PPCS, on behalf of the Secretary of State, will decide whether to submit an application to the Parole Board.
An application for reconsideration must be received within 21 calendar days of the initial decision being issued. The initial decision will be made final if there have not been any applications within 21 calendar days.
You may be able to request an extension of the application window. If you do not have legal representation and want to make a request, prisons must ensure that the extension request is emailed to Reconsideration@paroleboard.gov.uk within one working day of receipt. Late applications are unable to be accepted and so it is important your application is submitted promptly, and within the 21 calendar days.
You may also be able to request a reduction of the reconsideration window if there is an exceptional reason for your release before the end of 21 days. Such requests will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
The Secretary of State can also make requests to extend or reduce the application window. You will be notified if this happens.
Reasons for reconsideration
You can ask for a parole decision to be looked at again by the Parole Board if you have reasons to show the decision is either:
- Procedurally unfair – the correct and fair process was not followed in the review of the offender for parole – for example, important evidence was not shared.
- Irrational – the decision makes no sense based on the evidence of risk that was considered and that no other rational panel could come to the same conclusion.
How prisoners can apply
You can apply for a decision to be reconsidered yourself, or through your legal representative.
If you do not have legal representation and wish to submit an application for the decision to be reconsidered by the Parole Board, prisons must ensure that the application is emailed to Reconsideration@paroleboard.gov.uk within one working day of receipt.
The reconsideration decision
The Parole Board will decide if the decision should be reconsidered. This generally takes a further 21 to 28 days.
If it meets the criteria for reconsideration, the case will be sent for another parole review, which will be arranged as a priority.
All reconsideration decisions are given in writing, and are published online at baili.org
Parole Board power to set aside final decisions
Since 21 July 2022 the Parole Board has the power to ‘set aside’ a final decision about release on application of a third party or on initiation of the Board chair.
The Generic Parole Process Policy Framework has now been updated with details about this change – the following details are taken from this document.
A final decision can be set aside if the case meets the following criteria:
- There has been an error of law or fact (where the proceedings were unlawful or relied on factually incorrect information) and the Parole Board made a decision, which they determine would not have been made were it not for the error, or
- Where a direction given by the Parole Board for the release of a prisoner, which the Parole Board determines it would not have given if:
- It had received information that was available but that was not provided to the Parole Board when they made the decision, or,
- a change in circumstances relating to the prisoner, that occurred after the decision was issued, had occurred prior to the decision being made.
Setting aside a direction to release
Where the probation service or Prison determines that a case meets the criteria for the Parole Board to set aside their decision, they must inform Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS). PPCS will assess whether the request meets the criteria for the decision to be set aside and will decide whether an application should be made to the Parole Board.
PPCS (on behalf of the Secretary of State) has 21 calendar days to apply to the Parole Board for the decision to be set aside where it believes that an error of fact or law was made.
PPCS (on behalf of the Secretary of State) has up until the prisoner is released from custody to apply to the Parole Board for the decision to be set aside where it believes that there is new information or a change in circumstances.
If the Parole Board become aware of information that may prompt the need to set aside the original decision, they have the power to commence this process themselves.
Setting aside a direction not to release
If the Parole Board makes a direction not to release you, you (or your legal adviser) can apply to Parole Board for the final decision to be set aside. The Secretary of State can also request this.
The Parole Board has the power to set aside a final decision, where there has been an error of law or fact and the Parole Board made a decision, which they determine would not have been made were it not for the error.
You should speak to your legal adviser if you think this applies to you. You can also speak to your Offender Manager.
To apply you can write directly to the Parole Board to apply for them to set aside their decision. Or you can ask your legal adviser to do this.
The Parole Board for England and Wales
10 South Colonnade
The Secretary of State or the prisoner has 21 calendar days to apply to the Parole Board for the decision to be set aside where it believes that an error of fact or law was made.
If a decision is set aside
If a decision is made to set aside a final decision, the decision maker should also direct that the case should be:
- decided again on the papers by the previous panel or a new panel or
- decided again at an oral hearing by the previous panel or a new panel.
Is the power to set aside decisions the same as the reconsideration mechanism?
No, it is a separate process from the reconsideration mechanism.
The reconsideration mechanism for parole board decisions was introduced in July 2019. It means that if the Parole Board makes a decision regarding release, in some cases the decision will remain provisional for 21 calendar days from the date of issue to allow prisoners or PPCS on behalf of the Secretary of State to submit an application to the Parole Board to have the decision reconsidered. An application for reconsideration can be made if there are reasons to show that either the decision is irrational or it was procedurally unfair. If no application is made within the time frame the decision will be final. There is more information about this in our information sheet about The Parole Board and parole reviews – please contact our advice service if you would like a copy of this.
The power to set aside a decision applies once a decision becomes final, and therefore takes place after the window for reconsideration has closed.
What happens if the Parole Board directs release?
If the Parole Board has directed release, and the decision becomes final (i.e. if you are not eligible to apply for reconsideration, or if you are eligible and no reconsideration request is made within 21 days as per the reconsideration mechanism above), the PPCS must then arrange a release date with the prison and probation in accordance with your release plan.
If the decision has been made before your Tariff Expiry Date (TED) or Parole Eligibility Date (PED) then release must take place on an agreed date as soon as practicable after this date.
If the TED/PED falls on a weekend or bank holiday, then the release must be arranged for the working day before.
If the release decision has been issued after the TED/PED, then arrangements must be made once licence and associated documents have been prepared.
If your release plan includes residence in Approved Premises, then PPCS must be satisfied that a bed space is available before release.
PPCS are responsible for preparing and issuing the licence and associated documents. The prison must provide you with a copy of your licence and associated documents on the day of release.
Can I contact the Parole Board?
You can contact the Parole Board to:
- get an update on your review;
- provide representations;
- give written permission for a family member or friend to discuss the case or to represent you; and
- ask for a family member or friend to attend the oral hearing to support you as an observer.
The Parole Board for England and Wales
10 South Colonnade
Phone: 020 3880 0885
Can I make a complaint to the Parole Board?
You can complain to the Parole Board if you feel that someone behaved unprofessionally or inappropriately. You can also complain about poor service which may include concerns about delay, discourtesy or other failings.
However, the Parole Board cannot accept complaints about the decision itself. You can also ask a legal representative for advice about this.
Send your complaint to:
The Complaints Officer
The Parole Board for England and Wales
10 South Colonnade
You could consider making an application for your case to be reconsidered if you are serving an eligible sentence and you believe your complaint meets one of the criteria mentioned above – see above for more information.
You could also consider requesting that a Judge in Court looks at your decision by asking for a Judicial Review of your decision. There is more information in Prisoners’ Advice Service Information sheet about Judicial Review – please contact our service using the details at the end of this booklet if you would like us to send you a copy of this.
You should speak to a legal representative for advice on all of the above.
Useful policy documents
- Prisoners’ Advice Service Self Help Toolkit: The Pre-Tariff Review Process
- Prisoners’ Advice Service Information sheet: Judicial Review
- Easy Read guide to help prisoners with their parole review
- Easy Read guide to help prisoners prepare for their oral hearing
- The Parole Board booklet: Getting ready for a parole review without a lawyer – What you need to know
- The Parole Board booklet: Information for family and friends of prisoners having a parole review