Report calls for new system for freeing prisoners in England and Wales and new sentences for ‘dangerous offenders’

30 October 2009

A new report from JUSTICE has called 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 current Board is insufficiently independent from the Ministry of Justice and also is not given the powers and resources it needs – it has been overloaded with cases, resulting in considerable delays and legal challenges.

In its report, the result of a year-long research project funded by The Nuffield Foundation, 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.

The report is available to download from the JUSTICE website.

The views expressed in the report are those of JUSTICE, not the Nuffield Foundation.