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
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss