AREAS OF LAW
Parole Board Reviews
At SL5, we understand how important Parole Board hearings are, whether you are serving an indeterminate sentence, facing an oral hearing as a result of a recall or are seeking early release on an ‘old-style’ determinate sentence.
Our expert team can assist you in a number of ways:
Visiting you in prison to take your detailed instructions and guide you through the parole process
Having considered your dossier, we will prepare detailed written representations for the Parole Board at the Member Case Assessment Stage. The written representations stage is important to set up your oral hearing in the right way and ensuring that the Parole Board is aware of all the key issues in your case
We regularly instruct experts to provide an independent view to prison and probation report writers, in some cases challenging incorrect and damaging reports. For example, we make a legal aid application to instruct experts such as psychologists, which allows them to meet with you and to then provide an independent risk assessment
We provide you with expert preparation for and representation at Oral Hearings
If you receive a negative Parole Board decision, we will be able to advise you on whether you have grounds to challenge the decision by way of judicial review.
If you have a Parole Board review coming up and require advice and assistance at both the paper review and oral hearing stage, please do not hesitate to contact us.
A person who has been released from prison is subject to licence conditions for a period that takes them to the end of their sentence. During that period, the person is required to comply with the terms of their licence.
If you are suspected to have breached an aspect of your licence and you are recalled back to prison custody, our team can assist you with your recall review.
We understand the need to act promptly and to put pressure on authorities if needed to ensure that they do not allow your case to drift.
We will prepare representations on your behalf and if the circumstances of your case require it, we will seek a direction for an oral hearing for you.
We have a strong track record of securing successful outcomes for our clients.
If you require any assistance with a recall matter for either you or someone that you care about, please get in touch.
Category A Reviews
Category A status is given to prisoners whose escape risk and potential risk to the public are deemed to be high. Category A prisoners are subjected to a restricted regime with additional limitations on their freedoms, including association, visits and clothing.
Whilst all prisoners are entitled to a review of their security category status, Category A prisoners undergo a review by the Category A Review Team; a reviewing body comprised of unnamed civil servants who may not necessarily have expertise in risk assessment.
Legal aid is available for this area of work.
Errors in calculating your sentence can occur for many different reasons, such as the incorrect information being passed on from the Court to the prison or a misunderstanding regarding the relevant law or sentence.
If you think your sentence has been calculated wrongly, you should initially raise it via the internal complaints process.
If you have taken this step but it has not led to the issue being resolved, you are entitled to legal aid for legal advice and assistance in resolving this with the Prison Service.
Legal aid is also available for advice and written representations when you wish to challenge the period set by the Secretary of State for a parole review and for advice and written representations in connection with a minimum term review.
Our prison law team can advise you and can challenge errors made in your sentence calculation and with parole review period challenges and minimum term reviews. Please contact us if you need help.
Adjudications and Independent Adjudications
Adjudications are internal prison disciplinary procedures where inmates are alleged by prison officers to have breached the Prison Rules.
Legal representation is not an automatic right at adjudications. Legal aid is only available for advocacy representation before an Independent Adjudicator.
The more serious types of disciplinary charge carry the risk of additional days being added to a prisoner’s sentence. These must be heard by an independent adjudicator (an outside district judge).
Independent adjudicators have additional powers to those of prison staff and prison governors. They have the ability to award up to an additional 42 days imprisonment on top of the prisoner’s current sentence for each finding of guilt.
Prison Service Instruction 47/2011 provides guidance as to the elements of disciplinary offences which must be proven and procedures which must be followed for adjudications.
Legal advice and advocacy representation is permitted for independent adjudications and legal aid is still available.
If you or someone that you know is facing an independent adjudication and requires assistance, a member of our team can help.
LISP 4 Reviews - Representation before the Parole Board after being returned to Closed Prison
Indeterminate sentenced prisoners can be returned to a closed prison from open conditions in certain circumstances. In these cases, the returning open prison is required to prepare a report that provides the reasons for their decision. This report is called the LISP 4 and should be completed and disclosed as soon as possible. Some of these decisions are unfair and unjustified.
A prisoner is entitled to appeal against the decision and to submit representations explaining why it is wrong. The appeal must be submitted within 28 days of the date of the decision.
The Secretary of State for Justice is entitled to seek advice from the Parole Board in these cases. If this happens, the Parole Board will likely hold an oral hearing.
If you believe that the reasons for your return to closed conditions are not justified or you have not been represented fairly in the LISP 4 report, we can assist you, including representing you at an oral hearing if one is directed.
Legal aid is not available for this type of work. However we can act for you on a privately paying basis. Please contact us if you wish to discuss this.
Adjudications Before The Governor
Legal aid is not available for prisoners who are undergoing adjudications before a Governor. All prisoners are entitled to receive ‘legal advice’ but there is no legal aid for this and so they would have to pay privately for this assistance.
It is possible to seek permission for representation at an oral hearing if your case meets the ‘Tarrant criteria’. These are cases in which there are difficult issues of law or procedure or where the prisoner has mental health problems or learning difficulties or disabilities which have a significant impact on their ability to represent themselves.
This needs to be explained in representation to the Governor.
Our prison law team can offer advice and assistance or full representation if the Tarrant principles are satisfied for a reasonable fixed fee. Please feel free to contact our prison law team who are happy to discuss any questions you may have if you or your loved one is going through an adjudication.
Home Detention Curfew
A prisoner is able to apply for Home Detention Curfew at the two thirds point of their custodial sentence.
Home Detention Curfew (HDC) is a way for a prisoner to spend a proportion of their custodial sentence period at an approved address.
The ‘detention’ element of HDC requires a prisoner to wear an electronic monitoring tag that sends a direct signal to the prison service ensuring that the prisoner’s curfew is not breached.
There must be an assessment of the property in which the prisoner is registered to for HDC. The assessment is undertaken by the prisoner’s external probation officer, known as their offender manager.
An assessment is also undertaken of the prisoner’s suitability for HDC.
Eligibility and the procedure for HDC applications are explained in Prison Service Instructions 43/2012 and 12/2015.
Legal aid is not available if you wish to make legal representations for a HDC application, or if you want to challenge the reasons for a negative HDC decision.
We believe that all prisoners should have representation for important matters that affect their access to liberty. We offer a fixed fee service for this work which incorporates considering your case papers and instructions and preparing representations on your behalf.
Please contact us if you want to discuss a HDC issue you or someone you care about may be facing.
Sentence Planning and Challenges to OASys
All prisoners serving sentences of over one year will be governed and managed by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).
An OASys report is the risk assessment tool (abbreviated term for Offender Assessment System), that is used to determine a prisoner’s risk factors and risk levels.
The OASys report is used to establish a prisoner’s sentence planning targets.
If you feel that there are significant inaccuracies in your OASys assessment or that your sentence planning is not right for you, we can provide you with advice tailored to your personal circumstances and can draft representations to challenge your OASys or sentence plan.
Please contact us to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. NB Legal aid is not currently available for this kind of work.
Care Needs and Mental Health Issues
Some prisoners experience serious mental health problems while they are in prison; some have disabilities and physical or other care needs.
Prisons should have facilities to provide support to prisoners experiencing mental health problems and in appropriate cases to secure their transfer to hospital. They should also have arrangements in place for assessments of care needs in appropriate cases and for those needs to be met.
Unfortunately this does not happen in the way that it should within the prison estate. Prisons have legal duties towards prisoners with mental health or other care needs.
If you have concerns about care needs or mental health issues for yourself or someone you care about who is in prison, please get in touch.
Legal aid is not available for advice and assistance in this area. If you need help we can provide you with details of our private fees.
In cases of serious and dangerous failures to provide appropriate care, it may be possible to get legal aid to pursue a judicial review claim.
Licence Conditions and other Resettlement Issues
When you are leaving or have left prison, there may be issues which arise regarding your resettlement or licence conditions.
In some cases, individual circumstances have not been properly considered or licence conditions have been imposed which are unfair or potentially unlawful.
If you need advice about resettlement issues or licence conditions, including challenging unfair conditions please let us know.
Legal aid is not available for advice and assistance in this area.
If you need help we can provide you with details of our private fees. In cases of serious and dangerous failures to provide appropriate care, it may be possible to get legal aid to pursue a judicial review claim.