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
Saturday 12 July 2014
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 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
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...
£34000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Analytics & Reporting Tea...
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...