Prison law looks after the rights of prisoners.
The Prison Law department at Prime Solicitors provides a unique service to clients ensuring the care they have received throughout their criminal matters does not simply end when a person is at their most vulnerable, when they are taken into custody. The client care and focus upon their case continues during imprisonment by addressing issues such as appeals against conviction and/or sentence, Proceeds of Crime, advice regarding allocation of category status.
We are able to assist in relation to difficulties an inmate may have during their stay in custody, such as transfers to other prisons to meet sentence plan needs or to be closer to family in order to maintain family ties and enjoy family visits. Our comprehensive service covers all areas of prison law including the following areas:
- Lifer sentence prisoners all prisoners ISP/IPP/2 strike lifers
- Sentence plan boards
- Allocation and recategorisation
- Licence conditions
- Oral hearings before the Parole Board
- Home Detention Curfew
- Release on Temporary Licence
- Compassionate Release
- Disciplinary hearings – Independent Adjudications & Governor Adjudications
- Judicial Reviews
- Appeal against sentence/conviction
- Proceeds of Crime/Confiscation hearings
- Obtaining Independent Psychological/Psychiatric Assessments
- Tariff reviews
We have extensive advocacy experience to provide the best possible care at Oral hearings before the Parole Board or at Independent Adjudication hearings. We have had success in the High Court with Tariff review in the Case of Amer Nawaz Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 61 (QB).
Prison Law is funded under the CRM scheme which provides publicly funded advice and assistance where a matter is deemed to have sufficient merits and benefit to the individual. Where any prospective client does not meet the public funding criteria we are able to assist privately in all areas of prison law.
Parole Board Hearings
The Parole Board holds two types of hearing:
These normally take place in prison. For life sentence prisoners they will usually be chaired by a judge, but some IPP cases will be chaired by an experienced Parole Board member. Where the circumstances of the case warrant it the panel will include a psychologist or psychiatrist. The third person will be an independent, probation or criminologist member.
In addition to the prisoner and the panel, others who may be present include the legal representative of the prisoner, together with a public protection advocate representing the Secretary of State and the victim, and witnesses such as the prisoner’s offender manager and prison psychologist. The victim might also be in attendance in order to present their victim personal statement.
Oral hearings are used to consider the majority of cases where an indeterminate sentence prisoner is applying for release and also for some cases, involving both determinate and indeterminate sentences, where a prisoner is making representations against a decision to recall them to prison.
Oral hearings are also held before a single member in certain recall cases. The member will hold the hearing either at the prison or remotely using video-link.
Parole Board members sit in panels of one, two or three to consider cases on the papers and each member contributes to them on an equal footing. Any type of member can sit on these panels.
The panel takes a considered decision on the basis of a dossier that contains reports from prison staff and offender managers as well as details of the prisoner’s offending history. The dossier also contains a variety of formal risk assessments based on offending history, behaviour in prison, courses completed and psychological assessments. The dossier may also contain a victim impact statement or a victim personal statement.
Paper panels are used to consider the majority of cases where a determinate sentence prisoner is applying for parole and also serve as the initial hearing for all cases where a prisoner has been recalled to prison.
Adjudication is a procedure for resolving disputes without resorting to lengthy and expensive court procedure. For the purposes of this guide, adjudication is a reference to the procedure introduced in the UK in 1996 by the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act (Construction Act).
Originally the intention of the Construction Act was that the process would be fairly informal. However, it has developed into a formal process with parties serving detailed submissions, witness statements and often even expert reports.
Categorisation is the process by which a prisoner is assigned an appropriate security category. This post will focus on the categorisation process as it stands for adult males. It is governed by PSI40/2011.
The rules are slightly different for the categorisation of young male prisoners and for women prisoners. These are governed by PSI 41/ 2011 and 39/2011 respectively.
Assigning prisoners to the correct security category helps to ensure that they do not escape or threaten the control of prisons. In addition, it also means that prisoners are not housed in higher security conditions than is necessary.
Categorisations (and re-categorisation) are also central to sentence management. Correct categorisation enables prisoners to use their sentences constructively, to address offending behaviour and ultimately prepare for release.
Being re-categorised to lower security categories allows the prisoner to progress throughout the prison estate. It demonstrates a reduction and risk which is at the heart of the issue of release when the prisoner is eligible for parole.
Home Detention Curfew
HDC, more commonly known as ‘tagging’ is the means by which some prisoners may spend a proportion of their sentence confined to their home during a specified period of the day, usually for 12 night time hours. The prisoner on HDC has to wear an electronic tag, normally around an ankle for the duration of the HDC. The tag emits an electronic signal which is monitored by a private company contracted to the Prison Service to ensure the prisoner does not breach the curfew. The maximum period of HDC is 135 days (4½ months), unless your sentence is shorter than 18 months, in which case the maximum HDC period will be equivalent to a quarter of the total sentence.
Release on temporary license
Release on temporary licence means being able to leave the prison for a short time.
For example you might be granted a release on temporary licence
- because a parent or partner is seriously ill
- to help you settle back into the community when you finish your sentence
Release on temporary licence is usually shortened to ROTL.
Not everyone can get ROTL. Prisoners who cannot leave on a temporary licence are:
- Category A or on the escape list.
- Unconvicted and convicted but with no sentence yet.
- Subject to extradition proceedings – wanted by another country because they may have committed an offence there.
- Sentenced, but on remand on further charges or waiting to be sentenced for other convictions.
- Category B prisoners can not get a resettlement day or overnight release but may be allowed to leave if a close family member is dying.
- If you are serving a sentence and then get another on top for not paying a
- confiscation order, you can only apply for ROTL during this later bit, not on your original sentence.
- Prisoners serving a life sentence will usually only be released on a temporary licence if they are in open or semi-open prisons.
- Prisoners serving a life sentence in closed conditions will be able to be released on temporary licence if they could be living in open or semi-open prisons but can not be moved because of medical reasons.