The Parole Board Rules 2019 came into force on 22 July 2019. These new rules were laid before parliament on 24 June 2019 and replace the Parole Board rules 2016.
The new rules apply to all parole reviews referred to the Parole Board by the Secretary of State for Justice on or after 22 July 2019.
The Parole Board rules 2016 still apply for parole reviews referred before 22 July 2019.
Some of the more significant updates to the Parole Board rules are described below:
IPP licence termination
The Parole Board has a new process laid out in rule 31 of the Parole Board rules to deal with applications from people wanting to terminate their IPP licences, following a ten-year period in the community.
Prisoners can apply either directly to the Parole Board, or via the Ministry of Justice, and is irrespective of any recall. Upon hearing the application, the Parole Board can either terminate the licence, amend it, or decline to do either.
New powers to release any prisoner on the papers
The 2019 Rules apply to all case types, which means that the Parole Board now has the power to release any prisoner on the papers, including those serving life sentences.
The release of life sentenced prisoners on the papers was not an option under the 2016 Rules.
The Parole Board can now:
Third party directions
Rule 6 of the Parole Board Rules 2019 states that the Parole Board can now make directions directly to third parties and those third parties are able to engage directly with the Parole Board about those directions.
It is predicted that these third-party directions will be made to the police, CPS, and local authorities, among others.
It is hoped that this will speed up the process when third parties become involved in Parole Board proceedings and enable us to identify issues with direction compliance much sooner.
Rule 10 of the Parole Board rules 2019 says that a Parole Board panel can now appoint a representative for prisoners who lack the mental capacity to participate in the proceedings or make decisions about instructing legal representatives.
The panel will need to decide what is in the best interests of the prisoner to ensure a fair hearing and can now appoint a legal or other representative to meet that requirement. This includes where the panel believe a litigation friend, in addition to a legal representative, is needed. Previously, a representative could only be appointed with the prisoner’s consent.
Rule 17 of the new rules extends the non-disclosure provision and enables authorised third parties to make non-disclosure applications directly to the Parole Board. It is anticipated that third party non-disclosure applications will primarily be submitted by the police, CPS, and local authorities, but in some rare cases the security services may need to make an application.
Any third party must be authorised by the Secretary of State before they can make an application. The rule provides that any non-disclosure application must be made at least 8 weeks before an oral hearing unless there are exceptional reasons for a late application.
The Parole Board are also able to appoint a special advocate where information is requested to be withheld from both a prisoner and their representative, which may be required in rare cases when there are national security considerations.
Decision on the papers after a case has been sent to oral hearing
Rule 21 states that where a case has been directed to an oral hearing and further evidence is then received which would enable the case to be decided on the papers, a panel Chair or duty member can now, after hearing representations from the parties, direct that the matter be concluded on the papers.
Since 2018, summaries of Parole Board decisions have been made available to victims and the public upon request.
There is now a single test for the production of summaries, which applies to both victims and other persons. In every case, the Board must provide a summary upon request, unless the Board Chair considers that there are exceptional circumstances why one should not be produced.
There is also a six-month time restriction on applying for a summary following the decision. The Rules now also provide for a summary of decisions on applications to terminate IPP licences. No summaries will be provided for decisions on reconsideration applications, as these are not substantive decisions for release or non-release.
Rule 28 introduces a reconsideration mechanism, where either party – the prisoner or Secretary of State – can apply to the Parole Board for a decision to be reconsidered.
Reconsideration cannot be ordered simply because somebody disagrees with the decision: there will need to be a fundamental flaw in the decision, [which is explained on this reconsideration page] (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-parole-decision-to-be-reconsidered) of the Parole Board’s website.
A victim of crime or a member of the public can now make a request to the Secretary of State to apply for reconsideration of a decision.
The power to reconsider cases will not apply retrospectively to decisions made prior to the 2019 Rules coming into force.