On 2 February 2018 the Court of Appeal has granted permission for a challenge to be made, amongst other things, to:

(1)    the Parole Board’s current policy to determining the listing of parole hearings; and

(2)    systemic fault in the scheme requiring the timely delivery of parole hearings. The faults and delays are in breach of public law duty and/or of the state’s duty under Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 to maintain and operate a system for speedy and prompt parole. That requires to be remedied given the delays to liberty that it is producing, and has produced in the individual’s case. The continuing general lack of capacity or membership, including specialist members, is a breach of duty, with serious consequences. It deprives people of their liberty despite rehabilitation, and it adds cost and burden to the prison system which is avoidable and costs taxpayers the unnecessary cost of prolonged detention.

These important questions will now be considered by the Administrative Court.

The National Audit Office on 23 February 2017 published the results of its Investigation into the Parole Board, following on from its 2008 investigation. This investigates the backlog of outstanding parole cases which has led to increased delays. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General records that:

(1)    Ninety-eight percent of cases are completed late: after their target date has already passed;

(2)    In September 2016 the number of outstanding cases (beyond due date and still unlisted) was 2,093;

(3)    A total of around 1300 prisoners received their hearings more than six months’ late in the period April-September 2016;

(4)    The listings queue is more than double the number of hearings able to be listed each month.

The problems with the parole system and the IPP prisoners stuck in the system remain a stain on British justice. They were made the subject of comment in the press by a previous Lord Chancellor on  6 February 2018 (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/06/british-justice-collapse-moj-prisons-probation-legal-aid-lord-chancellor-charles-falconer) with reference for example to https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/15/ipp-prisoners-james-ward-jail-sentences-parole

Philip is instructed by Julian Coningham of Coninghams Solicitors.

Philip Rule is a specialist in judicial review and has extensive experience of challenges involving the parole system.