HC Deb 29 March 2000 vol 347 cc144-5W
Miss Widdecombe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 22 March 2000, Official Report, column 559W, on release of prisoners, if he will provide a breakdown by type of offence of the additional prisoners he estimates would be released earlier than now as a result of the electronic monitoring provisions of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill. [116690]

Mr. Boateng

It is not possible to give such a breakdown at this stage. The new powers will be carefully tested in pilot schemes before they are made available, and it would be premature to judge the possible outcomes of those pilots. However, there is no question of electronic monitoring being used to facilitate the early release of sex offenders or other high risk offenders. The availability of electronic monitoring for such offenders will not influence the Parole Board when making decisions or recommendations on release. The Secretary of State will be issuing Directions to the Parole Board to make this clear, using the powers available to him under section 32(6) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.

The measures in the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Bill will not change any prisoner's eligibility for release, and any discretionary release decision will continue to be subject to careful risk assessment. These proposals should provide additional protection for the public. High risk offenders—when eventually released at the end of their term in custody—could be made subject to electronic monitoring as a means of reinforcing curfew or exclusion conditions in their licences.

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