HC Deb 25 November 1993 vol 233 cc169-70W
Mr. Gapes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Government's policy towards home leave for violent or dangerous prisoners.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

The Government fully recognise and share public concern that prisoners who present a risk to public safety should not be released on home leave. Steps to tighten the existing procedures governing the grant of home leave were introduced in October 1992 to ensure that no prisoner who is eligible to be considered for an initial period of home leave should be recommended for release into the community before a detailed and thorough risk assessment of his or her potential danger to the public has been carried out. This is particularly important in the case of any offender with violent or dangerous propensities or antecedents.

Guidance to governors on the operation of home leave, including the risk assessment procedure is contained in "Circular Instruction 43/92", a copy of which is held in the House of Commons Library.

The prison service is presently conducting a review of the operation of the home leave and temporary release schemes. The working group undertaking the review is tasked with ensuring that public safety is not compromised by offenders being allowed leave as part of their gradual re-integration into society. It includes representatives from the police and probation services, and from Victim Support as well as the prison service. The working group's programme of work is nearing completion following which we shall study its report and any recommendations it may make, with great care.