§ Lord Avebury
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether a prisoner who is suffering from a progressive illness which is likely to cause death within a few years is entitled to make an application for compassionate release on Form 210 at his own discretion; and whether, if he is refused permission to make such an application, he may be examined by an independent specialist of his own choice. [HL2741]
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
Section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 allows for release from prison on compassionate grounds in exceptional circumstances. All prisoners are entitled to make an application for early release on compassionate grounds, and the criteria for determining such applications are set out in Prison Service Order 6000: Parole, Release and Recall.217WA
Where such an application is made on medical grounds, the Prison Medical Officer provides a medical assessment. The Governor is required to make a proper assessment of the risk the prisoner represents and comment on whether he supports the application before referring the case to Prison Service Headquarters. The advice of Prison Healthcare Advisors within the National Health Service Executive is then sought before a final decision is taken.
There is no statutory right for a prisoner to be examined by an independent specialist of his own choice where an application for early release on compassionate grounds is refused, and no standard policy guidelines apply. Such situations would be considered in the light of individual circumstances. The general principle is that prisoners should be afforded access to the same range and quality of health services as the general public.