HC Deb 19 November 1996 vol 285 c513W
Mr. Alfred Morris

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he expects to announce the outcome of the review of the compassionate temporary release scheme for prisoners; and if he will make a statement. [3827]

Sir John Wheeler

Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Prison Service under its chief executive, Mr. Alan Shannon. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Alan Shannon to Mr. Alfred Morris, dated 19 November 1996: The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to the Parliamentary Question that you asked about the review of the Compassionate Temporary Release Scheme. The Prison Service has now completed its review of policy in relation to unescorted temporary release. We have concluded that Liam Heffernan's failure to return from leave was an individual action which does not in itself have implications for the behaviour of other prisoners who might apply for temporary release. We will therefore continue to operate a policy under which prisoners may be granted unescorted leave. However, we will continue to consider applications very carefully and they will be refused if it is felt that there is a significant risk of absconding or danger to the prisoner or the public. As an additional safeguard. we have put in place new arrangements that will ensure that certain sensitive cases, including the cases of prisoners applying for leave outside Northern Ireland, will be scrutinised by a more senior official in Prison Service Headquarters.