Release on Temporary Licence
The government has conducted a review of the process for prisoners to be released on temporary licence (ROTL); the drive behind the changes being the rehabilitation of offenders.
Research has shown that working in the community prior to release significantly reduces the likelihood of re-offending. Ex-offenders in employment are up to nine percentage points less likely to commit further crime.
Re-offending currently costs the country £15 billion per year.
Previous changes focussed on support for ex-offenders when they leave prison with changes to the probation service. There was also a move away from short, ineffective, prison sentences and to allow more effective treatment of issues such as addiction and mental health problems.
What is new?
Now a number of changes have been made to the previous policy on ROTL, for adults. The idea is that this will assist in preparation for resettlement in the community once released.
The changes include:
- The threshold for Restricted ROTL is changed so that it is focussed on the most serious offenders.
- The current restriction on ROTL in the first three months after transfer to open conditions is removed, subject to a risk assessment.
- Those serving indeterminate sentences are eligible to be considered for unaccompanied day release (RDR) from the point of entry to an open prison or reaching open status in a women’s prison.
- In order to streamline the process agencies are consulted and boards only sit where necessary, with a focus on the right information and reducing paperwork.
- Greater use of workplace ROTL is encouraged; paid work will be allowed as soon as a prisoner is eligible for day release. The requirement for a prisoner on ROTL to spend at least one 24-hour period per week in prison is removed.
- Primary and sole carers will be allowed to apply for Childcare Resettlement Licence.
- Prisoners with a prior history of absconding will be allowed to be risk assessed for open conditions and ROTL if the history is more than two years ago and happened only once in the current sentence.
- Directors of contracted prisons will be allowed to take ROTL decisions whilst the Controller will continue to monitor the Director’s compliance in this area.
Public safety and public confidence
Any temporary release will always be balanced with the need for maintaining public safety and the public’s confidence in the judicial system. For example, the risk assessment will consider the impact of any release on identified victims and their whereabouts. More serious offenders will be subject to Restricted ROTL. This includes a number of elements over and above Standard ROTL such as enhanced monitoring.
The use of ROTL was restricted in 2013 following a murder committed by a prisoner on day release. However, the new licence changes mark a shift in attitude. Allowing prisoners to spend time in the community is a vital part of reintegration and 99% of all temporary releases are completed successfully.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice, then get in touch with John Howey on 020 7388 1658 and let us help. We deal with all manner of criminal offences on a daily basis, from the initial investigation through to Court. We have the expertise to get you the best result possible.
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.