Release from custodial sentences (including licences)

Release from custodial sentences (including licences)

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Sentences under 12 months

There is a duty to release a prisoner who is serving a sentence of under 12 months at the half way point of the sentence, CJA 2003 s 243A.

The release is unconditional – there are no licence conditions.

There is a HDC licence where the prisoner is released on a tag, prior to the half-way point. See the Home Detention Curfew Scheme fact sheet.

Sentences of 12 months or more

There is a duty to release a prisoner who is serving a sentence of 12 months or more at the half way point of the sentence, CJA 2003 s 244.

The release is on licence.

The licence expires at the expiry of the sentence, see CJA 2003 s 249(1).

Exceptions

The duty to release a prisoner serving a term of 12 months or more does not apply if the prisoner has been released on licence under section 246 (the 135 day rule – see the Home Detention Curfew Scheme fact sheet) and recalled under section 254

Release on licence

The following information is taken from Probation Instructions PI 2011/7

Aims a) protect the public, b) prevent re-offending and c) secure the successful re-integration of the offender into the community.

Conditions Licence conditions should be preventative as opposed to punitive. This does not mean that conditions cannot require an offender to do something (as opposed to not do something), in the same way as a ASBO or SOPO.

 

Test for imposing conditions

The test  Licence conditions must be proportionate, reasonable and necessary. This will be determined by the offender’s identified risk factors, which in turn will be based upon his previous offending.

Necessary means that the condition is necessary to enable the Offender Manager to manage the risks identified within the Risk Management Plan and no other less onerous condition will suffice. The condition must be needed to allow for effective management of the offender.

Proportionate means that any restriction or loss of liberty arising from the imposition of the condition is proportionate to the level of risk presented by the offender that no other less intrusive means of addressing the risk is available or appropriate. The condition cannot go further than is necessary to manage the risk.

Conditions

Explaining the conditions Offender Managers must explain each condition of the licence and consequences of breach on the first occasion the offender reports following release from custody. The offender must be asked to sign the licence in order to show that they understand their conditions.

Standard conditions for determinate sentences

A determinate sentenced prisoner released on licence must be released on a licence containing the six standard licence conditions set out below.

i)          To keep in touch with your supervising officer in accordance with any instruction you may be given;

ii)         If required, to receive visits from your supervising officer at your home/place of residence (e.g. an Approved Premises);

iii)        Permanently to reside at an address approved by your supervising officer and notify him/her in advance of any proposed change to address or any proposed stay (even for one night) away from that approved address;

iv)        Undertake only such work (including voluntary work) approved by your supervising officer and notify him or her in advance of any proposed change;

v)         Not to travel outside the United Kingdom unless otherwise directed by your supervising officer (permission for which will be given in exceptional circumstances only) or for the purpose of complying with immigration/deportation;

vi)        To be well behaved, not to commit any offence and not to do anything which could undermine the purpose of your supervision, which is to protect the public, prevent you from re-offending and help you to re-settle successfully into the community.

Additional conditions Licences may also include additional conditions, for example, requiring electronic monitoring, drug testing and such other conditions, provided (in the case of standard determinate sentence prisoners who were sentenced under the provisions of the 2003 Act) they fall within one of the licence requirements prescribed in Statutory Instrument No 648 of 2005 of the Criminal Justice (Sentencing) (Licence Conditions) Order 2005.

These requirements are:

a)        a requirement that he/she reside at a certain place;

b)        a requirement relating to his/her making or maintaining contact with a person;

c)        a restriction relating to his/her making or maintaining contact with a person;

d)       a restriction on his/her participation in, or undertaking of, an activity;

e)        a requirement that he/she participate in, or co-operate with, a programme or set of activities designed to further one or more of the purposes referred to in section 250(8) of the 2003 Act;

f)        a requirement that he/she comply with a curfew arrangement;

g)        a restriction on his/her freedom of movement (which is not a requirement referred to in sub-paragraph (f));

h)  a requirement relating to his/her supervision in the community by a responsible officer.

A ‘menu’ of additional conditions can be found at Annex A in PI 2011/7, which can be accessed here.

Dangerous offenders

Additional conditions Offender Managers must ensure that any additional licence condition in respect of indeterminate and extended sentence prisoners has a causal link to the kind of risk to the public that the sentence was imposed to address (i.e. intended specifically to manage and reduce the risk of further sexual or violent re-offending). It must also be possible to demonstrate that the condition is both necessary to manage the risk and proportionate to the level of risk.

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Lyndon is the General Editor of Current Sentencing Practice and the Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing)

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