What are licence conditions?
Licence conditions are the set of rules prisoners must follow if they are released from prison but still have a part of their sentence to serve in the community.
The aim of a period on licence is to protect the public, to prevent re-offending, and to secure the successful reintegration of the individual back into the community. They are not a form of punishment and must be proportionate, reasonable and necessary.
If a prisoner is released by the Parole Board, the licence conditions will be suggested proposed by the Community Offender Manager (COM) but will be agreed by the Parole Board. In some cases, the final decision will be for the Secretary of State to make.
Victims and Licence Conditions
- Victims who qualify for the National Probation Service (NPS) statutory Victim Contact Scheme have the right to make representations about licence conditions that relate to them.
- They must be informed about relevant conditions that are included in the offender’s licence.
- This is a statutory right, detailed in section 35 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (2004 Act).
In cases where the victim does not qualify for statutory contact, but where NPS has used discretion to provide them with the Scheme, the victim receives largely the same level of service as those with a statutory entitlement, and will be able to make representations about licence conditions. However, not all victims provided with the Scheme on a discretionary basis will be eligible to make a Victim Personal Statement
Where the Parole Board has not agreed to licence conditions requested by a victim, or issued an amended version of the request, the Parole Board will explain why it has not done so in its decision. This should include reference to the principles of the request being necessary and proportionate.
This information will be passed on to the victim by their Victim Liaison Officer. This is a requirement set out in the Code of Practice.
Application to vary a Licence Condition
Community Offender Managers (COM) within the NPS can apply to the Parole Board to vary or add conditions to the licence of an offender once a release decision has been made.
Victims can request to vary or add licence conditions. Any request will be via their VLO for those in the Victim Contact Scheme. The VLO will then pass it on to the COM to make the request.
Offenders can request for their licence to be varied or for conditions to be removed but must do so through their COM. COMs will initially consider such requests and decide whether the condition (or variation) is necessary to manage the offender’s risk.
All variation requests will be considered by the COM and then sent to the Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS) to submit to the Parole Board on behalf of the Secretary of State.
What will be considered in a licence variation request:
The Parole Board member who chaired the case (either as a Paper Hearing or Oral Hearing), or a Parole Board duty member, will make the decision on a licence variation request.
To make this decision they will look at:
- The dossier for the offender (provided by PPCS);
- the Parole Board’s decision to release;
- a report from the Community Offender Manager (COM) setting out in detail why the request to vary or revoke conditions has been submitted.
The basic rule is to ensure that the requested changes are necessary and proportionate and do not result in any increase of risk to the public. They should also be manageable.
There will need to be sufficient evidence that risk can be effectively managed if the licence condition is varied or removed and the Parole Board Panel can ask for more information if necessary. A decision on the licence variation request will then be sent to all parties.
Standard Licence Conditions
Every release decision will contain a standard set of licence conditions, which are as follows:
An offender must:
(a) be of good behaviour and not behave in a way which undermines the purpose of the licence period;
(b) not commit any offence;
(c) keep in touch with the supervising officer in accordance with instructions given by the supervising officer;
(d) receive visits from the supervising officer in accordance with instructions given by the supervising officer;
(e) reside permanently at an address approved by the supervising officer and obtain the prior permission of the supervising officer for any stay of one or more nights at a different address;
(f) not undertake work, or a particular type of work, unless it is approved by the supervising officer and notify the supervising officer in advance of any proposal to undertake work or a particular type of work;
(g) not travel outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man except with the prior permission of your supervising officer or for the purposes of immigration deportation or removal.
The Supervising Officer is the Community Offender Manager (COM).
Additional Licence Conditions
Licences may also include additional conditions, for example, exclusion zones or non-contact restrictions.
These additional licence conditions come under the following categories:
- residence at a specified place;
- restriction of residency;
- making or maintaining contact with a person;
- participation in, or co-operation with, a programme or set of activities;
- possession, ownership, control or inspection of specified items or documents;
- disclosure of information;
- curfew arrangement;
- freedom of movement;
- supervision in the community by the supervising officer, or other responsible officer, or organisation.
These additional licence conditions need to be specifically asked for by the COM and the Parole Board will decide whether they are necessary and proportionate.
Recall of Prisoners on Licence
An offender can have their licence revoked and be recalled to custody at any time during their licence period.
Where the National Probation Service (NPS) considers an offender has breached the conditions of their licence, the offender’s behaviour indicates that they present an increased or unmanageable risk of serious harm (RoSH ) to the public, or there is an imminent risk of further offences being committed, the NPS will request that the offender be recalled.
When considering the recall of offenders subject to an indeterminate or extended determinate sentence licence, the NPS must demonstrate a “causal link” in the current behaviour that was exhibited at the time of the index offence.
One of the following criteria must be met when assessing whether to request the recall of these offenders:
i. Exhibits behaviour similar to behaviour surrounding the circumstances of the index offence;
ii. Exhibits behaviour likely to give rise (or does give rise) to a sexual or violent offence;
iii. Exhibits behaviour associated with the commission of a sexual or violent offence; or
iv. Is out of touch with the COM and the assumption can be made that any of (i) to (iii) may arise.
It is the PPCS acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, that will make the final decision about recall. The Parole Board is not involved in the recall of an offender.
However, the Parole Board will be asked to consider the re-release of all indeterminate sentence recalled prisoners, and determinate sentence recalled prisoners that have not been re-released automatically, or through Executive Powers, by the Secretary of State.
Termination of Licence for an Offender serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) or Detention for Public Protection (DPP) sentence
An offender sentenced to Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) or Detention for Public Protection (DPP) has the right, under section 31A of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 to apply for consideration to be given to terminating their licence 10 years after their initial release, regardless of whether they have subsequently been recalled and re-released.
It is only the Parole Board that can terminate an IPP or DPP licence. Rule 31 of the Parole Board Rules 2019 deals explicitly with termination of these licences.
Any applications for termination of an IPP or DPP licence should be made by the offender themselves, either to the Parole Board directly, or via their Community Offender Manager (COM).
Where an application is received by the Parole Board directly from the offender the Parole Board will notify PPCS via a standard direction and provide a copy of the application and the offender’s contact details. PPCS will then notify the COM, who will prepare a report to add to the dossier of information that the Parole Board will need in order to consider the application.
When the Parole Board receives the dossier of information it will carry out a risk assessment to establish if the licence can be terminated or if it is still required to protect the public. The Parole Board can make one of the following decisions:
(a) terminate the offender’s licence
(b) amend the offender’s licence
(c) refuse the application
Once an IPP or DPP licence has been terminated, the offender will not be subject to recall on that licence, and unlike the suspension of supervision (which is a separate process), all of the licence conditions related to that licence are terminated and may not be re-imposed.
If a request is refused a further application can be made after 12 months.
More detailed information
For more detailed information on licence conditions and licences, here are some useful links:
HMPPS Generic Parole Process Policy Framework 27 January 2020