New rules allowing the justice minister to block prisoners moving to an open prison come into force today. According to the Ministry of Justice, serious offenders will now have to pass ‘a tough three-step test’, including proving they are highly unlikely to abscond and that such a move would not undermine public confidence in the justice system, as part of reforms to ‘restore confidence in Parole Board’.
Serious offenders will face the toughest test yet to prove they have turned their backs on crime for good and are eligible for a move to open prison, following a tightening up of the rules by the Deputy Prime Minister.
As of today, all indeterminate sentence offenders will face a revised Parole Board release test ‘to ensure public protection is always the overriding consideration and a new power for Ministers to block the release of the most dangerous offenders in the interests of public safety’. ‘Keeping the public safe is government’s first duty,’ commented the deputy prime minister and justice secretary, Dominic Raab. ‘That’s why I’m toughening up the test the most dangerous criminals must pass before they can move into open prisons. We are also going to introduce a ministerial check on parole decisions to release the most serious offenders – to protect the public and make our streets safer.’
Until today, the justice secretary could only block a Parole Board recommendation to move an offender to an open prison if it went against the recommendations of the expert risk assessment without explaining why; was based on inaccurate information or where there was not a wholly persuasive case for the move. The MoJ points out, in the last two months Raab has already blocked the Parole Board’s recommendations to move several dangerous offenders to open prison including murderers Steven Ling, Stephen Wynne and Adam Swellings, rapist and leader of Derby grooming gang Abid Siddique and serial rapist, Lee Hill.