§ Baroness Seccombe
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is their practice in reviewing the need to continue the imprisonment of offenders after they have served 15 years. [HL827]
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker)
All prisoners serving a determinate sentence of four years or more and who were sentenced under the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 become eligible for consideration for parole at the half-way point of sentence. The Parole Board is responsible for considering all applications for release on parole. In cases where the sentence is 15 years or more, the Secretary of State may only release a prisoner on parole licence when recommended to do so by the board.
Prisoners not granted parole at the half-way point are entitled to annual parole reviews thereafter and may be released on parole at any time between the half-way and two-thirds point. Those who are not granted parole are released automatically at the two-thirds point of sentence and remain on licence under supervision by the Probation Service until the three-quarters point of sentence.
Prisoners serving life sentences have their cases considered by the Parole Board three years before the date of their tariff expiry (the period required for retribution and deterrence) and at regular intervals thereafter.
Prisoners serving a mandatory life sentence can only be released by the Secretary of State, following a positive recommendation by the Parole Board and after consultation with the Lord Chief Justice and the trial judge. Prisoners serving a discretionary or automatic life sentence or sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure are entitled to have their case reviewed every two years and the decision to release is taken by the Parole Board.
Those prisoners with a whole-life tariff have their cases reviewed by Ministers after 25 years and every five years thereafter.