§ Mr. Wheeler
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the arrangements for the release into the community from hospital of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment who are subsequently transferred to and remain in hospital under the provisions of section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
§ Mr. Brittan
When life sentence prisoners transferred to hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 are to be released, it has hitherto been the practice to discharge such466W persons on a warrant of conditional discharge under section 42(3) of the Act. I now intend to use the powers available to me under section 50(1)(b) of the Act, which enables me to release such persons under the same arrangements as those they would have been subject to had they remained in, or been returned to, prison. This means that, in future, such persons will normally be released on life licences under the provisions of section 61 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967, in accordance with the sentencing courts' intention, that is, on the recommendation of the Parole Board and after consultation with the Lord Chief Justice and, if available, the trial judge. In exceptional cases, where the Lord Chief Justice and the trial judge so recommend, I will be prepared to consider whether it would be more appropriate to authorise discharge under section 42(3) of the 1983 Act.
Under the new procedure, a life sentence prisoner who has been transferred to hospital, can be released on life licence without having to return to prison before release. Persons released on life licence under these arrangements will be subject to recall to prison under the provisions of section 62 of the 1967 Act. Should their mental condition be such that they are recommended for transfer to hospital this could very quickly be effected under the provisions of section 47 of the 1983 Act.