HC Deb 06 March 2000 vol 345 c539W
Mr. Hawkins

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what grounds he authorised the early release of Christopher Snelling, the murderer of Police Sergeant Robertson; and if he will make a statement. [111786]

Mr. Boateng

Christopher Snelling was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for conspiracy to rob and the manslaughter of Police Sergeant Robertson. No decision as to his release has yet been taken.

His application for release on parole is currently being considered by the Parole Board, pursuant to the authority delegated to it under the Parole Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 1998. I have asked the Chairman of the Parole Board to write to the hon. Member directly once the Board has concluded its deliberations, setting out its decision.

When considering a case such as Mr. Snelling's, the Parole Board takes into account Directions as to the release of determinate sentence prisoners given by the Secretary of State, under section 32(6) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. These focus primarily on the risk to the public of a further offence being committed at a time when the offender would otherwise be in prison. This is balanced against the benefit, both to the public and the offender, of early release back into the community under a degree of supervision which might help rehabilitation and so lessen the risk of reoffending in the future.