Research and Development for the Parole Board
The Parole Board is committed to taking a more evidence based approach to informing continuous improvement of policy and practice related to parole, and this includes outcomes and recommendations from good quality research and thematic studies.
The publication of the organisational strategy 2016-2020 provided a solid framework for the Board to take a more detailed look at its priorities and identify where research could provide insight into areas that would benefit from study.
The Parole Board is in a unique position and can provide access to its staff and members, sets of data and information that it owns, and access to policy and practice professionals.
As such, we have now published a Research Framework which will ensure that research involving the Parole Board is conducted ethically and is of benefit to the Parole Board and the victims and prisoners with whom we work.
We define ‘research involving the Parole Board’ as including any work which involves collecting information for research and/or evaluation purposes, which can include observing parole proceedings, access to decisions, or talking to our staff and members about their work.
Data that is routinely collected as part of the information for management, monitoring or audit purposes is also periodically published and this includes:
- Data on caseload
- Data on decisions
- Data on delays
If you would like further information or data please contact us on the following email:
It should be noted that access to data relating to prisoners and victims not owned by the Parole Board, or contact with individuals not working in any capacity for the Parole Board, will usually require approval through the appropriate routes within the Ministry of Justice or Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service.
Undertaking research at the Parole Board
High quality research can help improve practice and policy within the parole system. If research projects can be shown to be of benefit, we will consider supporting them by enabling access to our staff and members, case management data, and in some cases other individuals. We make sure that projects are conducted ethically, that there are appropriate safeguards in place to meet information assurance requirements, and that no individuals are identifiable within published research.
If you are interested in undertaking research with the Parole Board, you must first secure approval from the Research Governance Group (RGG). The RGG will review the feasibility of your research and its relevance to the work of the Board.
The Board has identified a number of key priority areas which have been mapped against the organisational strategy to ensure they fit with business priorities, with a focus on the medium term, taking us to 2020.
- Research into women’s experience of the parole system
- Small scale study outcomes for BAME or other minority group prisoners
- Evaluating our independence
- Unrepresented and/or vulnerable prisoners experience of the parole system
- Literature review on risk analysis
- What happens to people afterwards/outcomes
Applications that relate to any of the above are encouraged.
For your research to be considered by the RGG, please complete the research application form, after reading the Research Governance Framework.
The framework provides information on what the RGG will be looking for when assessing applications and how decisions about applications are made.
Any researcher accessing our data or people will be required to sign our confidentiality and information assurance declaration.
Please note the Parole Board cannot fund research and applications will need to set out in detail how funding will be secured. However, the Parole Board can, where appropriate, support funding applications to other organisations.
If you are unsure whether your application will meet the criteria set out in the framework or have any other questions about the process please contact us and we will assist where we can.
Any studies are referenced here for information and are not necessarily an endorsement.
Parole Board Oral Hearings: Exploring the Barriers to Release (2016)
by Professor Nicola Padfield, Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice, University of Cambridge; Master of Fitzwilliam College. External researcher.
“There is considerable interest in understanding how oral hearings of the Parole Board work, in theory, in law, and in practice. Underlying this is a concern that many life sentence prisoners (particularly IPPs) are serving many years post-tariff before being released, and that many recalled offenders also spend long periods back in prison, ‘stuck’ in the system.
“The study explores the barriers to release for life sentence and IPP prisoners and provides insight into what is missing or has not been done/achieved by the prisoner in advance of a parole review, which resulted in the prisoner not being released. It will also indicate what Parole Board panels are looking for when considering release.”
The final reports can be found here:
Parole Board Oral Hearings 2016 - Exploring the Barriers to Release: Avoiding or Managing Risks? Report of a Pilot Study
Parole Board Oral Hearings 2016-2017 - Exploring the Barriers to Release: Stage Two of an Exploratory Study
There are a number of ongoing research studies that are due to conclude in 2018, and information will be added here, when available.
Some key research findings that have taken place with the Parole Board for England and Wales are below:
Any enquiries regarding research should be sent to Glenn Gathercole: