§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the cases of all prisoners affected by the lowering of the parole threshold will be determined finally by local review committees.
Whether full home circumstances reports will be obtained in respect of prisoners whose cases will now be considered for parole because of the lowering of the threshold.
How many additional members of local review committees they expect to appoint because of the lowering of the parole threshold; and what additional resources they propose to provide in order to ensure that such members are trained adequately.
§ Lord Elton
My right honourable and learned friend intends shortly to lay a draft order before both Houses of Parliament seeking approval to a reduction in the minimum qualifying period for parole to six months.
Since one effect of the measure will be to reduce the minimum qualifying sentence for parole to about 10½ months from the present 19 ½ months, the newly qualified prisoners found suitable for parole by the local review committees at the prisons will be dealt with under Section 35 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972 without reference to the Parole Board; the final decision will rest—as in all cases—with my right honourable and learned friend.
An adequate report on the prisoner's likely domestic circumstances on release will be required before parole can be considered. It has been estimated that the increase in the numbers of cases to be reviewed will create a requirement, across the board, for at least 200 new independent members, some 100 new probation members and some 100 new Board of Visitors members of the local review committees. The arrangements for training these new members will be the same as for existing members. The necessary resources will be made available.