Changes to the Parole Board Rules in November 2016 allowed the release of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) prisoners on the papers. Further to these rules changes, the Parole Board’s Management Committee has now agreed two related policy changes that affect the options available to members dealing with IPP cases at the paper stage. These changes will take effect for MCA cases with a panel date of 8 March 2017 onwards. The position in relation to life sentence cases is unchanged.
The two changes are as follows:
1. Option to recommend open conditions on the papers in IPP cases
Members will be able to recommend open conditions on the papers in any IPP case, where eligible under the referral. Under previous Parole Board policy, although it was permitted under the rules, members have not had the option to recommend open conditions for any prisoners at MCA stage, unless the case was considered exceptional and approval was gained from the Parole Board Chair. These limitations will no longer apply.
2. Option of negative decision on the papers in IPP recall cases
Oral hearings will no longer be automatic for IPP recall cases. At MCA stage members should assess whether to send the case to oral hearing or make a decision on the papers.
Under previous Parole Board Rules and guidance, all indeterminate recall cases, including IPP recalls, were sent automatically to oral hearing. The Parole Board Rules 2016 aligned the options available for IPP cases at the paper stage with those for determinate cases; that is, members are able to direct release, no release, or send the case to an oral hearing. These options apply to all IPP cases where release is an option, i.e. on or post tariff reviews and recalls. This means that a negative decision on the papers in IPP recall cases is now permitted.
The Management Committee has now approved an approach whereby members exercise broad discretion in deciding whether to send an IPP recall case to oral hearing or make a decision on the papers. Members will take into account the principles set out in Osborn, Booth & Reilly (2013) UKSC 61 in deciding whether an oral hearing is required. This broadly mirrors the approach in determinate cases.