What types of hearing does the Parole Board hold?
The Parole Board holds two types of hearing:
These normally take place in prison. For life sentence prisoners they will usually be chaired by a judge, but some IPP cases will be chaired by an experienced Parole Board member. Where the circumstances of the case warrant it the panel will include a psychologist or psychiatrist. The third person will be an independent, probation or criminologist member.
In addition to the prisoner and the panel, others who may be present include the legal representative of the prisoner, together with a public protection advocate representing the Secretary of State and the victim, and witnesses such as the prisoner's offender manager and prison psychologist. The victim might also be in attendance in order to present their victim personal statement.
Oral hearings are used to consider the majority of cases where an indeterminate sentence prisoner is applying for release and also for some cases, involving both determinate and indeterminate sentences, where a prisoner is making representations against a decision to recall them to prison.
Oral hearings are also held before a single member in certain recall cases. The member will hold the hearing either at the prison or remotely using video-link.
Parole Board members sit in panels of one, two or three to consider cases on the papers and each member contributes to them on an equal footing. Any type of member can sit on these panels.
The panel takes a considered decision on the basis of a dossier that contains reports from prison staff and offender managers as well as details of the prisoner's offending history. The dossier also contains a variety of formal risk assessments based on offending history, behaviour in prison, courses completed and psychological assessments. The dossier may also contain a victim impact statement or a victim personal statement.
Paper panels are used to consider the majority of cases where a determinate sentence prisoner is applying for parole and also serve as the initial hearing for all cases where a prisoner has been recalled to prison.