Getting parole means you can leave prison or be released from custody before the end of your sentence. You’ll be kept under supervision, known as being ‘on licence’ or probation.

You may be released or transferred to an open prison (‘open conditions’).

There are different rules for young offenders. There are also different rules in Scotland and rules in Northern Ireland.

The government will apply for parole on your behalf - you do not have to do anything.

When you’re eligible for parole

When you’re eligible for parole depends on what type of sentence you have.

Life or indeterminate sentence

You’ll be contacted either:

  • 3 years before your earliest release date (‘tariff’) runs out if you’re serving a sentence of 4 years or more
  • at least 6 months before your tariff runs out if you’re serving a shorter sentence

Extended or fixed-term sentences

You’ll be contacted up to 6 months before your earliest release date if you have either:

  • an extended sentence
  • a fixed-term sentence of 4 years or more, given before 3 December 2012 for a serious violent or sexual crime committed before 4 April 2005

You’re not eligible for parole if your sentence is less than 4 years.

What happens next

  1. You’ll get an application form to fill in. Ask a friend for help if you need to. You can also use a legal advisor.

  2. The prison will put together some documents. They’ll include what you’ve done in prison and what you plan to do on release.

  3. Check that the documents are correct. You can add evidence (‘representations’) showing why you should be released.

  4. The Parole Board will decide either that you cannot be released or that your case needs a hearing. You may have to represent yourself if you cannot get legal aid or do not have a solicitor.

It usually takes 6 months to get a decision about your case.

Your case will be reviewed again within 2 years if you do not get parole.

Challenge the Parole Board’s decision

You may be able to challenge the Parole Board’s decision.