Released, but not free

7 Dec 2017

Serving a custodial sentence for many is a reality after either pleading guilty to an offence being found guilty after a trial. For many offenders this often impacts not only on a single individual but in many cases their family.
The first thing those who have just received a custodial sentence want to now is when will the be released. That date is a goal to aim for for many, the light at the end of the tunnel I am told. So, when the day of release comes, it is a time to draw a line under the past and move on. But, for many offenders, the release from custody comes with conditions, in the guise of license terms that must be abided by, with the threat of a recall to prison if not obeyed in full.
The government announced changes to the release license regime that came into effect on 13th November 2017.
Release licenses will in future be able to restrict 'specified conduct or specified acts'. The government intends that conditions are to be put in place for particular offenders that will:
• Prohibit gambling
• Prohibit the drinking of alcohol
• Prohibit the use of some social media websites
In planning for an offender’s release, a supervising officer will create a release plan including the consideration of which additional licence conditions are appropriate. These conditions are then submitted to the Governor of the particualr prison, who will then review the application on behalf of the Secretary of State. Only once the Governor confirms the conditions, are they legally enforceable.
Why Prohibit Alcohol Consumption?
This is what the government says:
"The consumption of alcohol is a known factor in recidivism for some offenders. In 2004, the Prison Reform Trust published a paper which estimated that 63% of male offenders and 39% of female offenders within the England and Wales prison estate admitted to hazardous drinking before being imprisoned. At the same time, the estimated cost of alcohol-related crime and public disorder was £7.3 billion per year. A condition to require an offender not to consume alcohol would set an expectation for an offender on licence and compliance with that condition would be subject to recall."
 Can I challenge The Licence Conditions?
To be lawful, any licence condition, standard or additional, has to be necessary and proportionate to manage the offender’s risk of reoffending and risk of harm. It is open to an offender to challenge the imposition of a licence condition by way of an application for judicial review, where the offender considers that the condition is not necessary or proportionate to manage those risks.
How We Can Help
We can assist with any sentencing related query, in the first instance contact our criminal team on 01302 327257.