Slow parole is costing millions

11 May 00
Delays in releasing prisoners on parole in England and Wales cost around £2.5m in 1998/99 according to a National Audit Office report.

12 May 2000

Co-operation across the criminal justice system needs to be improved to speed up processing of parole applications, said Sir John Bourn, the comptroller and auditor general.

Around 60% of parole applications were turned down in 1998/99, partly because of prisoners' behaviour, and the report also recommends that prisoners need to be better informed about what is expected of them.

David Davis, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, acknowledged attempts by the Prison Service to tackle parole delays.

But, he said: 'Much more needs to be done to minimise these delays and the subsequent impact on the taxpayer by improving co-operation, and encouraging greater accountability within the Prison Service.'

Around 50% of parole applications were submitted on time during 1998/99 compared with about 40% in 1996/97. During April to September 1999, the average was 67.5%.

In 1998/99, only 58% of Parole Board decisions were received within the target time of two weeks before the possible release date, though in the first six months of 1999/2000 the average figure was 82%.

About £500,000 of the cost of parole delays was accounted for by difficulties with deporting paroled foreign nationals. Around 8% of these spent an additional 100 days in custody.


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