§ Mr. Boateng
Prisoners serving four years and over are eligible for parole at the half way point in sentence under a system of discretionary conditional release. Section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 allows for release from prison at any time on compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances. In the last 12 months, one prisoner serving a sentence for inflicting grievous bodily harm has been released on compassionate grounds prior to his parole eligibility date.
Prisoners serving under four years are not subject to parole but are released automatically at the halfway point in sentence. The majority of such prisoners are eligible for consideration for the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme which provides for their release up to 60 days before their automatic release date. Full details of those released under the HDC scheme since its introduction in January 1999 are given in the reply by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 3 July 2000, Official Report, columns 58–59W.