9. Potential Impacts of Consultation Proposals
Q22. "Please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative, that you consider any of the proposals in this consultation may have on anyone (including custody or community facing) or any organisation affected by the parole process."
9.1 Seventeen of the 23 respondents commented on this question.
Key themes from respondents in relation to the overall proposals were:
- Any changes would have to take account of those individuals who are among the most vulnerable or disadvantaged, examples being in relation to individuals who are detained in a secure hospital who may not be in a position to provide a written statement of preparation, or children and young people who may have limited capacity in terms of reading and writing (Q18).
- Any changes to processes would have to consider if there was any impact on victims or witnesses.
- Removal of gender specific language, an example being 'chairman of the Parole Board' as opposed to 'chair'. Prisoners in general are referred to as 'his' or 'he'.
- Those being considered for release who may have literacy, learning difficulties, language or other capacity issues must have access to independent support to assist with any written work required to go to the Parole Board.
- Any changes to processes may wish to include (where appropriate) the views of families of the individuals in custody both in terms of potential support for the person due to be released, but also as individuals in their own right.
- Any new or revised guidance, or information which sets out clearly and concisely the parole process including decision-making and what is required from all those involved including the person being considered for release, their families, victims and organisations, who provide reports to the Parole Board, would be welcomed.
- Removal of "immediate" from re-release following recall considerations would be welcomed. For certain categories of prisoner it poses significant difficulty and expenditure to put in place provisions for release. An example being approved housing. If this is part of their licence conditions and on release they are unable to stay at an approved address, they have effectively been set up to fail, as this will be a breach of licence.
- Any decision to remove the appointments process from the remit of CESPL needs to be supported by a robust alternative.
- Any changes should not cause any unnecessary delay to the release of anyone.
- Concern that whilst in custody prisoners are not able to access the appropriate programmes required for them to progress and this may impact on the decision to release.
- Clear guidance on practices and processes would be welcomed by those directly involved in the parole process. This includes report writers, prisoners, victims, witnesses and families.
The responses to this public consultation were low but they did represent a cross-section of organisations. The limited response numbers demonstrate that these are technical changes. With the exception of Q.2 (current terms for appointment and reappointment being fit for purpose) and Q.20 (oral hearings and tribunal considerations to mirror casework) there were no areas where responses indicated a clear disagreement with proposals as presented.