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Parole Board Guide

The Parole Board is an independent body, which is separate from the government, the Ministry of Justice, prisons and probation service. Its powers are like a court and its decisions are binding on everyone.

The parole process can be unfamiliar and distressing for many people. Despite this, the Parole Board value victim participation and wherever possible the Parole Board aims to improve the experience of victims.

The Parole Board has a duty to:

  • Consider all representations that victims have made about licence conditions (see below for more details)
  • If a victim has requested a licence condition which has not been included, provide an explanation for the non-inclusion
  • Read a Victim Personal Statement if one is submitted
  • Consider applications from the victim if they want to attend the oral hearing
  • Consent to a request from the victim to attend in person unless there are good reasons for not doing so

More information can be found here:

How victims engage in parole

Some victims are entitled to support and information about their case from a Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) within the National Probation Service (NPS).

To access this service victims will need to sign up to the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS), which will then provide them with an opportunity to write a Victim Personal Statement (VPS).

Click here to read more about the Victim Contact Scheme and information on how to join it.

Once a victim is aware that a parole review is taking place, they can decide whether to submit a VPS.

This statement will go into the evidence presented to the Parole Board and the victim will have the option to apply to attend or to have their statement read out on their behalf.

The Parole Board has published an information booklet for victims which can be accessed by this link.

How the Board makes its decisions

The Parole Board makes its decisions by carrying out a risk assessment to decide if certain prisoners can be safely released back into the community.

More information can be found here:

Setting licence conditions

VLOs will support victims to request licence conditions that will make them feel safer.

The VPS can illustrate the level of anxiety and vulnerability of the victim, and can provide detail on the victim’s routine, location and impact of coming into contact with the offender.

As such, licence conditions should be proportionate and should take into account the likely risk to a victim, which could be actual or perceived/psychological.

The Board has a duty to balance the rights of the victim and family against the rights of the prisoner and family.

More information can be found here:

The complaints process

The Parole Board has a process in place to deal with complaints and will resolve swiftly, and will keep the victim informed of progress of the complaint.

The process includes the right for the victim to complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if the victim is not satisfied with the response.

This is set out in the Parole Board’s Complaints Policy, which can be found here:

What the Parole Board doesn’t do

The Parole Board has no direct contact with victims. Their engagement in the parole process is fully managed through the Victim Contact Service. VLOs have direct responsibility for ensuring victims signed up to the VCS are provided with the correct services.

The Parole Board does not manage an offender once released, this is the responsibility of Probation Officers.

The Parole Board cannot deal with complaints about decisions regarding whether or not to release a prisoner. This can only be challenged by way of Judicial Review through the Administrative Courts.

More information can be found here:

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