Improving victims engagement in the parole process
The Parole Board is an independent body, which is separate from the government, the Ministry of Justice, prisons and probation service. Its powers are like a court and its decisions are binding on everyone. No one can interfere with its decisions and the Ministry of Justice must comply with them. The Parole Board makes its decisions by carrying out a risk assessment to decide if certain prisoners can be safely released back into the community.
The Parole Board aims to provide the highest standards of service. We are committed to explaining and providing information about what we do and listening to feedback. This is so that our service to victims continues to improve.
We aim to comply with the Victims’ Code, which sets out how victims can be involved in the parole process, as well as recommendations from reviews and reports issued by the Victims’ Commissioner. We also adhere to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) Principles of Good Complaints Handling.
Victims and the Parole process
We recognise that the parole process can be unfamiliar and distressing for many people. Despite this, we welcome the fact that victims choose to contribute and we value their participation. Wherever possible we aim to reduce the difficulties involved and improve the experience of victims who engage in the process.
As part of the parole process some victims are entitled to support and information about their case from a Victim Liaison Officer within the National Probation Service. To access this service victims will need to sign up to the Victim Contact Scheme, which will then provide them with an opportunity to write a Victim Personal Statement.
(see Summary of Key Entitlements and Chapter 2, Section 6.25 onwards)
Training and Learning about victims’ issues
We provide training for:
- Parole Board Members to increase their understanding of the victim’s experience
- Our staff to help develop their knowledge and experience of a victim’s involvement in the parole process and handling enquiries from victims involved in specific cases
We hold a Victims Focus group for Parole Board Members where good practice and guidance regarding the victims experience is developed and reviewed.
The latest guidance to Parole Board Members was published in April 2017.
If things go wrong for victims
- We have a process in place to enable concerns and complaints to be investigated and resolved swiftly both informally and formally
- We keep the victim informed of progress of the complaint and respond in their preferred method of communication
- Our process includes the right for the victim to complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if the victim is not satisfied with our response.
This is set out in our Complaints Policy
However, we cannot deal with complaints about decisions the Parole Board makes regarding whether or not to release a prisoner.
Improving our service
We keep a log, analyse and report all our complaints and feedback. Our Senior Management Team and Management Committee will identify how our service can be improved based on this report. Please contact us if you wish to get in touch to offer feedback or comments on your experience of the parole process as a victim of crime.
Complaints Officer 0203 334 6921
Working with other organisations
We work with the Victims’ Commissioner’s Office (VCO), the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and other organisations to share good practice, identify and tackle system problems, and look at continuously improving the service for victims.