Parole Board For England And Wales
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Parole board publishes annual report and accounts for 2008/09

Parole board publishes annual report and accounts for 2008/09

News Release issued by the Government News Network on 20 July 2009

The Parole Board today published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2008/09, reporting on its performance against business plan targets, statistics for determinate sentence and indeterminate sentence prisoners and accounts for the year.

The report records the work carried out by the Board last year to maintain its high standards of risk assessment during a year in which it faced the twin challenges of a critical shortage of judicial resources and continued changes to its workload as a result of government legislation.

Statistics

The key statistics for 2008/09 are:

28,596
The number of cases considered during the year. This compared with 31,172 in 2007/08, down by 8%. This fall in total cases is mainly due to fewer determinate sentence and recall cases being referred to the Board. More resource intensive three member oral hearings were held.

2,757
The number of oral hearings that took place during the year. This compared with 2,531 in 2007/08, up by 9%. This continues the rising trend in the number of such hearings. Lifer cases have dropped from 1,423 in 2007/08 to 1,272 this year, but IPP cases rose from 253 in 2007/08 to 556.

4,012
The number of determinate sentence cases considered by paper panels during the year. This compared with 7,594 in 2007/08, down by 47%. The number of DCRs continues to fall significantly as these sentences are phased out under the 2003 Criminal Justice Act. There was a fall in EPP and deport cases.

17,184
The number of recall cases considered during the year. This compared with 19,060 in 2007/08, down 10%.

24%
The percentage of DCR cases where parole was granted. This is down from the 35.9% release rate in 2007/08. The number of DCR cases considered by the Board has fallen by 52% and increasingly only those on longer fixed sentences remain in the system.

97
The number of determinate sentence prisoners recalled from parole during the year following an allegation of a further offence. This figure has fallen from 231 in 2007/08. Out of an average of 2,400 such prisoners on parole during the year this is a recall rate of 4%, which compares to a recall rate of 6.8% for 2007/08.

15%
The percentage of life sentence cases considered by oral hearing where life licence was granted. This is unchanged from the release rate of 15% in 2007/08 and 2006/07. The release rate for IPP prisoners is 8%, almost unchanged from 7% in 2007/08 and 8% in 2006/07.

89
The number of prisoners on life licence who were recalled during the year for any reason. This is out of a total of 1,646 life sentence prisoners under active supervision in the community during the year, or 5.4%. This is a fall on the figure for 2007/08 of 114 recalls from life licence out of 1,751 prisoners in the community, or 6.5%.

Performance

Our headline performance against business plan targets for 2008/09 is as follows:

Lifer/IPP oral hearings work – We exceeded the target for sending initial notifications 130 days in advance of hearings in 90% of cases, achieving this in 98% of cases. We continued to focus on reducing the number of deferred oral hearings, although these actually rose from 15% in 2007/08 to 19%. This was in part due to the loss of 56 cases due to severe adverse weather conditions in February

Paper panel work – We exceeded the target for considering 95% of re-panelled DCR cases within 25 working days, achieving 99%. We also exceeded the target for considering 90% of recall cases within 6 days, again achieving 99%.

Smith and West oral hearings work – We achieved the target for holding 70% of oral hearings within the allotted timescale. We increased the number of hearings carried out by video link where the prison had video facilities to 17%, but still some way short of the target of 25%.

Post panel work - We exceeded the target for taking action to insert licence conditions or suspend parole within 15 working days in 95% of cases, achieving this in 100% of cases. We also exceeded the target for responding to complaints from prisoners and correspondence within 20 working in 95% of cases days, achieving this in 99% of cases.

Commenting on the report, Parole Board Chairman, the Rt Hon Sir David Latham, said:

“The challenges that the Board faces at the moment are well known. The most pressing immediate problem is the number of outstanding cases. The most significant obstacle to an effective remedy is the lack of judge time, but there are other steps which can be taken to try to make better use of our existing resources. One of my priorities will therefore be to explore with the management team ways in which procedures can be made more efficient and hearing times more productive.

“Looming over this immediate problem, however, is the biggest challenge of all, which is to make an effective contribution to the debate over the future structure and place of the Parole Board within the criminal justice system.

“The organisation and constitutional independence of the Parole Board needs to be at the heart of the future arrangements in the face of ongoing changes in workload, legislation and case law. It will be my job, and that of our new Chief Executive, Linda Lennon, to manage the transition to that landing place.”

Parole Board Chief Executive, Linda Lennon CBE, added:

“The workload of the Board continues to remain heavy, with a significant switch away from less labour intensive paper hearings towards much more resource intensive oral hearings.

“Our budget settlement for 2009/10 will help us to address our incoming workload, if we can find enough judicial members to chair oral hearing panels. The much bigger challenge will be to significantly cut into the number of outstanding cases that is currently estimated at around 1,840.

“The Board have been working closely with the Public Protection Casework Section on a Generic Parole Process to link together all the case-management processes and targets previously held separately by different departments. We will be working closely with PPCS and our sponsor unit to develop a recovery plan to address the issue of delay.”

Accounts

The Board’s sponsor is the Access to Justice Group of the Ministry of Justice. The Board’s only source of income is grant-in-aid which is provided by the Ministry of Justice. This was £8,360,000 for 2008/09 which was an increase of £860,000 (11%) on 2007/08.

The estimated unit costs (excluding notional costs) to the Board for processing each category of case are as follows:

2007/08 2008/09 Paper hearing – DCR and EPP cases
£263 per case
£390 per case
Oral hearings – 3 member panels for the hearing of lifer, IPP and ESP cases
£1,553 per case
£1,764 per case
Intensive case management
£260 per case
£296 per case
Oral hearings – single member panels for the hearing of representations against recall for determinate sentence prisoners
£818 per case
£705 per case
Recalls under the CJ Act 2003 and the CJ&I Act 2008
£55 per case
£60 per case

The cost of ICM has been shown separately from oral hearings.

The cost of the DCR panels has increased as these panels now deal with 18 cases (previously 24) due to the increased complexity of these dossiers. The cost of oral hearings has increased as the Board has strengthened its structure to meet its workload. The decrease in the cost of single member oral hearing panels for representations against recalls was due to the increase in the number of cases that failed to show adequate grounds for appeal.

Notes to Editors

The Parole Board is an independent body that works with its criminal justice partners to protect the public by risk assessing prisoners to decide whether they can safely be released into the community.

The Parole Board Annual Report & Accounts 2008/09 have been formally laid before Parliament today. Copies of the Report can be downloaded in PDF format from www.paroleboard.gov.uk

For further information please call Tim Morris, Head of Communications, on 020-7217 0564 during office hours, or 07725-927954 out of hours, look on the Parole Board website at www.paroleboard.gov.uk , or e-mail tim.morris5@paroleboard.gsi.gov .uk

PR/04/2009

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