In a letter addressed to the parole board, the Ministry of Justice identified statistics highlighting the impacts of the ‘single view’ procedure Dominic Raab implemented under the Parole Board (Amendment) Rules 2022. What those numbers indicate are shocking.
Before the change was implemented, 94% of recommendations by the board on prisoners that should progress to open prisons were accepted by the Ministry. Since the change in June 2022, 87% of such recommendations have been rejected. The numbers highlight that the new policy change, far from reducing risks, significantly increases it. Touching on the topic in a blog post, the Prison Reform Trust reasoned that the newly minted policy was ‘profoundly unfair’ to prisoners and importantly, works against the goal of public protection, which Raab claimed to have been the key motivating factor for the change.
Crucially, the letter from the Ministry of Justice indicated that the number of release decisions had fallen this year, and the Parole Board contended that it is likely that this exclusion, will lead to fewer release decisions in due course. Today (18 October), Baroness Prashar (former chair of the Parole Board) led a debate in the House of Lords, urging ministers to reconsider those changes in light of this new information.
During her speech, Baroness Prashar gave due consideration to the profound implications that the newly minted scheme will have on sentence progressions of prisoners, and how the negative procedure was decided with no preliminary debate or external consultation oversight. Importantly, Baroness Prashar noted that the Parole Board impressive record of one in 200 releases of a prisoner being charged with a further serious offence, argues for the exemplary way the Parole Board has conduct its investigations. To add to this, Lord Carlile of Berriew also praised the Parole Board’s record and claimed the board was now “under attack” from the Government.
The numbers and reflections from the debate show the urgent need to review of the merits of the new changes to open prison paroles Dominic Raab introduced earlier this year.