1. When someone can leave prison

When a prisoner is released depends on:

  • the length of their sentence
  • their behaviour in prison
  • any time spent on remand (waiting for their trial)

If the prisoner has a fixed term (determinate) sentence

A prisoner serving a determinate sentence is normally released automatically halfway through their sentence.

If their sentence is 12 months or more, they will be released on probation.

A Parole Board is not involved.

When a Parole Board reviews a case

A Parole Board only reviews a case if the prisoner’s sentence was more than 4 years and given for a serious violent or sexual crime committed before 4 April 2005.

The prisoner must apply for parole.

A prisoner can ask their prison offender supervisor or their solicitor if they’re unsure when they can apply for parole.

A Parole Board will then discuss the case and decide if the person can be released.

The Parole Board is independent and not part of the Prison Service.

If the prisoner has a non fixed term (indeterminate) or life sentence

Prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence will have their case automatically reviewed by the Parole Board. This happens around 6 months before the end of their tariff (the minimum length of time the person was ordered to stay in prison).

The decision whether to release a prisoner is made at a Parole Board hearing.

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