Prisons policy: victims, recidivism and home leave

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From Mr Stephen Shaw

Sir: Polly Toynbee raises the issue of whether it was lawful for the Home Secretary to withdraw home leave from prisoners.

Until the new criteria were introduced, a large number of prisoners up and down the country enjoyed home leave and temporary release as part of a "compact" between them and the prison authorities. It is arguable that, under such arrangements, home leave constituted a prisoner's legitimate expectation, the unilateral withdrawal of which could be struck out by the courts. I understand that legal challenges on these grounds are now being prepared on behalf of several prisoners who have been adversely affected.

When the cutbacks were announced, the Home Secretary predicted that the effect would be to reduce home leave and temporary release by 40 per cent. Reports that have reached the Prison Reform Trust suggest that the actual reduction has been far greater.

Yours faithfully,



Prison Reform Trust

London, EC1

2 June