Parole Board publishes annual report and accounts for 2011/12Wednesday, 11 July 2012
The Parole Board today published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2011/12, reporting on its performance during the year, statistics for determinate sentence and indeterminate sentence prisoners and accounts for the year.
The report records the work carried out by the Board last year to maintain its high standards of risk assessment during a year in which it faced the twin challenges of a big backlog of cases and continued uncertainty over its future.
Commenting on the report the Acting Chair of the Parole Board, the Hon Mr Justice Neil Butterfield, said:
'The Secretary of State has confirmed that the Parole Board will stay as we are, as an independent Arm’s Length Body of the Ministry of Justice, for the immediate future. This will bring to an end, at least for now, an unsettling period for the Board and will allow us to focus on the challenges that lie ahead.'
Parole Board Chief Executive, Claire Bassett, added:
'The workload of the Board remains at a historically high level and the number of cases we are handling has increased by 3.3%, from 25,566 to 26,414, over the last year. This rise in workload is due to an increase in indeterminate sentence and recall referrals which is only partially offset by a continuing fall in discretionary conditional release (DCR) cases.
'The nature of our current cases has continued to mean that more resource intensive oral hearings are required rather than less labour intensive paper hearings. Oral hearings were up 13% overall last year to a new record, following a 25% increase in the previous year.
'Our greatest achievement this year has been to double the number of oral hearings panels that we hold every month without any increase in the number of secretariat staff. We are now averaging around 240 oral hearings panels a month, which is almost certainly our current operational capacity.
'The Board has been given an indicative budget settlement of £10.4 million for 2012/13. This represents an effective freeze of our budget for 2011/12. In the context of cross-government spending cuts this is a good settlement, but to stretch the budget to cover the projected 24% increase in our indeterminate workload whilst continuing to keep our backlog of cases as small as possible will be a considerable task.
'To meet the ongoing challenge of the predicted increase in our workload over the coming few years will require some radical thinking on our part and probably on the part of others too. We are embarking on a fundamental review of our panel hearing process, as well as looking at further administrative savings, in order to achieve the necessary efficiencies. The scale of the challenge facing us means that we will be forced to look beyond just improving what we do now and we will be asking our partner organisations to join us in this endeavour.'
The key statistics for 2011/12 are:
The number of cases considered during the year. This compared with 25,566 in 2010/11, up by 3.3%. This rise in total cases is due to an increase in indeterminate sentence and recall cases being referred to the Board, partially offset by a fall in DCR cases. The number of resource intensive three member indeterminate sentence oral hearings rose by 16%.
The number of oral hearings that took place during the year. This compared with 3,732 in 2010/11, up by 13%. This continues the rising trend in the number of such hearings. Lifer oral hearings fell slightly from 1,607 in 2010/11 to 1,549 last year. Indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP) cases rose significantly from 1,430 in 2010/11 to 1,957.
The number of determinate sentence cases considered by paper panels during the year. This compared with 1,381 in 2010/11, down by 36%. The number of DCRs continues to fall significantly as these sentences are phased out under the 2003 Criminal Justice Act. There was also a fall in extended sentence for public protection (EPP) and deport cases.
The number of recall cases considered during the year. This compared with 14,159 in 2010/11, up 6%. The number of single member oral hearings and sift cases to consider representations against recall fell by 29% during the year from 1,301 to 928.
The percentage of DCR cases where parole was granted. This is a rise from the 19% release rate in 2010/11. The number of DCR cases considered by the Board continues to fall and only the most serious cases, on longer fixed sentences, remain in the system.
The number of determinate sentence prisoners recalled from parole during the year following an allegation of a further offence. This figure has fallen from 41 in 2010/11. Out of an average of 457 such prisoners on parole during the year this is a recall rate of 1.1%, which is down compared to the recall rate for further offences for 2010/11 of 6.3%.
The percentage of life sentence cases considered by oral hearing where life licence was granted. This has risen from the lifer release rate of 15% in 2010/11. The release rate for IPP prisoners is 14%, up from 6% in 2010/11.
The number of prisoners on life licence who were recalled during the calendar year 2011 for any reason. This is out of a total of 1,909 life sentence prisoners under active supervision in the community during the year, or 6.1%. This is a small rise from the figure for 2010/11 of 111 recalls from life licence out of 1,763 prisoners in the community, or 6.3%.
Notes to editors
The Parole Board is an independent body that works with its criminal justice partners to protect the public by risk assessing prisoners to decide whether they can safely be released into the community. The Board has responsibility for considering both indeterminate sentence cases (life sentence prisoners and those given indeterminate sentences for public protection) and determinate sentence cases (discretionary conditional release prisoners serving more than 4 years whose offence was committed before 4 April 2005 and prisoners given extended sentences for public protection for offences committed on or after 4 April 2005). In both instances the Board considers initial release back into the community and re-release following a recall to prison.
The Parole Board annual report and accounts 2011/12 have been formally laid before Parliament today. Download a copy of the report.
For further information please call Tim Morris, Head of Corporate Affairs, on 0300-047 4659 during office hours, or 07725-927954 out of hours, or e-mail