§ Miss Widdecombe
Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Tom Cox, dated 13 July 1993:The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the number of home leaves of prison inmates that have been refused due to the fact that the victims object to such home leave.Last November the Home Secretary announced new arrangements to replace the existing home leave and temporary release schemes for prisoners. The new system of release on temporary licence came into effect on 25 April following changes made to the Prison Rules. A new system of data collection is being established to monitor the operation of the new system but information about victim concerns will not be recorded centrally because, in most cases any decision to refuse an application would be based on a variety of factors and not solely because of victim representations. Under the new arrangements, governors are required, within the risk assessment process for considering applications for release on temporary licence, to take full account of any concern expressed by victims. However, victims do not generally have any power to veto the release of prisoners on temporary licence, except where the victim is in the home and their wishes must be respected.The Victims Helpline which opened last December had received 186 calls by 29 June, of which 73 were enquiries and 113 were representations. These were passed to the appropriate prison for consideration. Information about the nature of the individual representations and whether they led to a refusal of release on temporary licence is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.