Parole Board guidance

The work of the Parole Board is guided by a number of different directions, rules and stated policies. Some of these, such as the Secretary of State's Directions or the Parole Board Rules, have been issued by Ministers others, such as the practice guidance for oral hearings have been agreed by the Parole Board Management Board.

The Parole Board strives to be as open and as transparent as possible but must do so within the requirements of the law, which require the Board to observe legal restraints on the disclosure of confidential and/or personal information. By promoting better understanding of our processes and the principles underlying our decision making, the Board aims to build greater confidence in the quality of those decisions amongst the public, prisoners and our partner organisations. We are committed to publishing as much information as possible about our policy and practice in the Freedom of Information section of this website.

Related Information

Prisoners unrepresented at Parole Reviews

As a result of the government’s recent changes to the legal aid system, which took effect on 2 December 2013, some prisoners will
no longer be entitled to receive legal aid for their parole review. Legal aid is only available for parole reviews where the Board has the power to direct release.

In the majority of cases where the Parole Board is considering release from prison then legal aid will still be available.  This will therefore mainly affect those prisoners whose review is only considering a transfer to open conditions (a pre-tariff review) or a return back to open conditions (an advice case).

Because of these changes, the Parole Board has published a practical guide, setting out how prisoners can prepare for their parole review, if they are unable to instruct a legal representative. 

Guide for prisoners unrepresented at Parole Reviews (PDF) 

Guidance on LASPO (PDF)
Following the cases of King and Sturnham the Parole Board has revised its guidance to members in relation to the LASPO 2012 Act. The changes relate primarily to the test for release of determinate sentenced prisoners, which has now been aligned with that of indeterminate sentence prisoners.

Oral hearings guide (PDF)
This set of guidance is issued to Parole Board members to assist them when they are conducting oral hearings considering parole applications from prisoners. It includes pre-hearing, procedural and equality issues and also discusses roles at the hearing and the decision itself. This guidance was updated in March 2012.

A quick guide to parole

Parole for children and young people

Secretary of State's Directions

On 11 July 2013 the Secretary of State announced in a written ministerial statement that he was withdrawing his Directions to the Parole Board where they apply to its decisions on early release. These Directions were made by the Secretary of State under statutory powers and relate to matters that the Board should take into account when considering cases referred to it.

The Parole Board has decided to issue Guidance to its own members to take the place of the Directions.

The Secretary of State’s Directions on the transfer of indeterminate prisoners to open conditions will shortly be re-issued and will remain in force.

Parole Board Rules

In arranging the timetable and procedures for oral hearings the Parole Board follows the Parole Board Rules made by the Secretary of State, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by section 32(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.

Practice guidance for oral hearings

The Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Osborn and others in October 2013. The judgment has wide-reaching implications for the Board as it fundamentally changes the way in which the Board must view the concept of an oral hearing and significantly broadens the circumstances in which the law requires it to hold one. 

Oral hearing listing prioritisation framework

In November 2009 the Parole Board revised the oral hearing listing prioritisation framework, which it first introduced in April 2009 to reduce delays in oral hearings by prioritising older cases which were unable to be heard when originally scheduled.

Juvenile oral hearings

In November 2010 the Parole Board agreed an extension to the existing policy of having oral hearings for all juveniles serving extended sentences for public protection who apply for parole while under the age of 18. 

Intensive case management

In January 2008 the Parole Board launched a system of intensive case management to support Parole Board members in their deliberations, especially in the cases of those sexual of violent offenders that pose particular difficulties for risk assessment.

Freedom of Information

The Parole Board is committed to publishing as much information as possible about policy and practice under Freedom of Information guidelines.

Parole Board


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