Parole system preparing for overload as Supreme Court ruling gives prisoners right to 'hopeless' hearings

The Supreme Court ruled it was fair for inmates to be given meetings

The parole system is preparing for overload after a ruling gave prisoners the right to have hearings even when there is no hope of release.

The number of hearings is expected to treble, from 4,500 to 14,000, raising the authority's costs by at least £10 million.

In October, the Supreme Court stated that the board should concentrate on "fairness" for inmates and deciding whether they are likely to have their request for transfer or release granted should not be the same as deciding if to let them have a hearing.

Previously, oral hearings were not held if it was deemed unlikely to make a difference to the parole decision.

Sir David Calvert-Smith, chairman of the Parole Board for England and Wales, said forms were previously used instead of meetings for such assessments.

He added: “The implications of the decision, put simply, are that the Parole Board will have to hold oral hearings in a huge number of cases which had previously been dealt with on paper.”

Shortly before the ruling was made, the board announced its backlog was at the lowest level for five years.

But the chief executive, Claire Bassett, said the judgement is “already having a profound impact on the volume of work handled by the Parole Board”.

England and Wales has an imprisonment rate of 149 per 100,000 of the population England and Wales has an imprisonment rate of 149 per 100,000 of the population Lord Faulks, a justice minister, told the BBC the Government was working with the authority to ensure it could cope with the extra hearing.

“The board has been given an additional £3 million funding to enable them to handle any increased workload, and is also introducing a number of changes to improve their capacity,” he said.

“Together with the board we will look at further options to help them deliver an effective service in this and future years.”

It comes as the Howard League for Penal Reform claimed the prison system was "at breaking point" after the number of officers fell 30 per cent over the past three years, to 19,325.

A report suggested that suicides, attacks and riots would increase unless action was taken to increase staffing in relation to the number of inmates.

Frances Crook, from the charity, said it was "not natural justice" for the Parole Board to insist cases are hopeless without a meeting.

"It will cost more to have more hearings, that's right. But if people are moved through the system safely and more quickly then it will save money as well, so the costs should be offset," she told the BBC.

The Parole Board is responsible for deciding when the most serious offenders, including murderers and rapists, can be moved to a lower security facility, released or rehabilitated.

It assesses the risk to the public posed by inmates serving indeterminate or life sentences or any term more than four years.

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?