Justice Minister, Lucy Frazer QC has launched a Root-and-Branch review of the parole system in England and Wales this week. Frazer hoped the review will improve the public trust and victim confidence.
The Parole review aims to build on recent reforms and improve the transparency of the Parole Board’s work. The review will also look at more ‘fundamental changes’ which can be made to the service.
Frazer wants the review to ascertain whether the current model, ‘the Parole Board’, is the best system for deciding whether prisoners should remain in custody or be released into the public.
The ministry of justice defended the Parole Board system saying “The work of the Parole Board has increased significantly in recent years. It now holds over 30 times more oral hearings than it did twenty years ago; around 8,000 every year.”
Lucy Frazer QC’s review will consider:
- Whether the constitution and status of the Parole Board need to change in order to better reflect the court-like decisions it takes.
- If alternatives, such as tribunals might be more efficient.
- Whether additional measures are needed to strengthen the Parole Boards powers.
The first step in the review is a public consultation launching today. The Ministry of Justice will invite views on whether victims should be allowed to oversee parole hearings. Questions will also be asked on whether the media and the wider public should have more access to Parole hearings.
At present, victims are entitled to read about the impact of an offender’s crime but are not allowed to attend the hearings due to the sensitive information which is discussed. (in relation to prisoners medical history).
Justice Minister Lucy Frazer QC, said:
“We now have the opportunity to take a more fundamental look at the system to ensure it continues to protect people by releasing offenders only when it is safe to do so and does this in the most effective way.“