A new parole system for England and Wales

Research funded by the Foundation has led to the publication a new report from JUSTICE, which calls for a new system for freeing prisoners in England and Wales, to replace the current Parole Board.

The Parole Board currently decides whether and when to free all prisoners serving life sentences and those serving ‘dangerous offenders’ sentences, as well as some prisoners serving fixed-term sentences for older offences.

The report concludes that the current Board is insufficiently independent from the Ministry of Justice and is not given the powers and resources it needs. The authors also note it has been overloaded with cases, resulting in considerable delays and legal challenges.

JUSTICE recommends that the Parole Board should be replaced by an independent Parole Tribunal – as part of the Tribunal Service. It should have full time members and be able to list its own cases, compel witnesses to appear before it and order documents to be disclosed. Journalists should be admitted to Parole Tribunal hearings.

The report also recommends the abolition of the controversial indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPP and for children, DPP) under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and their replacement with a sentence with a definite final release date.

Project details



Roger Smith, JUSTICE

Fuding programme

Law in Society

Grant amount and duration


January 2008 - May 2009



A New Parole System for England and Wales, Justice (October 2009)

Download report here (PDF)