Guidance by the Ministry of Justice
As published on www.gov.uk on 13 March 2020
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When and how to challenge a Parole Board decision to release an offender in England & Wales.
If the Parole Board decides it is safe to release an offender the decision is provisional for 21 calendar days. During this time the decision can be challenged if someone believes either:
the correct process was not followed in the review of the offender for parole - for example, important evidence was not taken into account
the decision was irrational or unreasonable - the decision cannot be justified based on the evidence of risk that was considered
However, the Parole Board considers cases carefully so it will be unusual for a decision to change.
If a parole decision is not challenged within 21 calendar days it becomes final and the offender must be released.
This guidance applies to all sentence types where the Parole Board considers release. It does not apply to standard determinate sentences - sentences of a fixed length where the offender is automatically released on licence at the halfway point.
In line with the Parole Board’s aim for transparency, all reconsideration decisions will be published on BAILII at the conclusion of the relevant proceedings. Please note, any sensitive information will be redacted prior to publication.
Routine decision checks
The Secretary of State (responsible for justice) has a Reconsideration Team that checks all provisional parole decisions.
If there are grounds (relevant reasons) they will ask the Parole Board to reconsider the decision. If the Parole Board accepts this request the case will be looked at again and there could be a new hearing.
Your right to raise issues
The Reconsideration Team checks every parole decision, whether or not a victim asks them to.
However, if you think there is a problem with the parole decision you can ask the Reconsideration Team to take this into account.
The Parole Board will not reconsider a case only on the grounds that a victim does not want the offender to be released.
Speak to your victim liaison officer
If you have signed up to the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS), your victim liaison officer (VLO) can support you through the parole process.
If you decide to raise issues about the parole decision they can help you to contact the Reconsideration Team and will keep you updated. Your VLO can also tell you about support services available in your local area.
You might be eligible to sign up to the Victim Contact Scheme now if you don’t already have a VLO.
If you sign up to the scheme you might also be able to ask for additional conditions to be added to the offender’s licence if you are concerned about your safety. Licence conditions control things like who the offender can contact and where they can go.
Ask for the parole decision summary
When deciding if you want to challenge the decision you might find it helpful to read the Parole Board’s decision summary. The summary will explain how they reached the decision, including risk factors and the offender’s behaviour in custody. You can request the decision summary by email.
Victims who are part of the Victim Contact Scheme should ask for the decision summary through their VLO.
How to challenge a decision
You have 21 calendar days from the parole decision date to challenge the decision.
Speak to your VLO - they can explain the process.
Fill in Form CPD1: Challenge a parole decision.
Email or post your form to the Reconsideration Team.
Where to send the form
If possible you should email your form rather than post it because the time frame to challenge a decision is just 21 days. Your VLO might be able to email the form for you.
Reconsideration Team (PPCS)
15th Floor, Southern House
If you decide to raise issues with the Reconsideration Team your details will be treated with confidentiality. If the team decides there are grounds to challenge the decision, this will be done in the name of the Secretary of State - the offender won’t be told that you personally raised issues about their parole.
What happens next
If the Reconsideration Team believes the decision should be reconsidered they will apply to the Parole Board within 21 days.
If you asked the Reconsideration Team to challenge the decision, they will let you know if they have asked the Parole Board to reconsider the case shortly after the 21 days have passed.
If the decision is raised with the Parole Board
If the Reconsideration Team raises the decision with the Parole Board the offender’s release will be put on hold.
The Board will decide whether:
the original decision was correct and the release should go ahead
the case should be looked at again, which could mean there will be a new hearing
If the Board finds that the original decision was correct but that it contained an error, they might correct the error and reissue the decision.
If the case is looked at again
The Parole Board will reconsider the decision by looking at the case on paper or by holding a hearing in person.
However the case is reconsidered, victims will have the opportunity to make another victim statement or to resubmit their original one. Your VLO will explain the timings and help you through the process.
The Parole Board could decide that:
the offender must be released as originally decided
the offender must be released but with different licence conditions
the offender is recommended for a transfer to open conditions
the offender must not be released at this time
Published 13 March 2020