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PAROLE BOARD: ORAL HEARINGS OF OFFENDERS’ Probation

REPRESENTATIONS AGAINST RECALL

PURPOSE
Circular
THIS CIRCULAR REPLACES PC 45/2004, WHICH WAS ISSUED IN
ERROR. COPIES OF PC 45/2004 SHOULD BE DESTROYED REFERENCE NO:
To provide guidance for probation officers asked to provide written reports 45B/2004
for, or to attend, Parole Board oral hearings of offenders’ representations
against recall. ISSUE DATE:
12 August 2004
ACTION
• To ensure that all probation officers, SPOs, and above and any other staff IMPLEMENTATION DATE:
likely to be involved in the procedure are informed of the existence of this Immediate
Circular;
• To make clear to staff that they must co-operate with the Parole Board by EXPIRY DATE:
providing them with the information they need to make their decisions and
July 2009 (or until replaced)
by attending hearings if invited.
• To ensure staff have access to relevant information in respect of extended
TO:
sentence and life sentence prisoners including Prison Service Instruction
Chairs of Probation Boards
06/2004 on extended sentenced prisoners and Prison Service Order 4700
–“The Lifer Manual”. Chief Officers of Probation
• To note, in relation to staff development, that it would be good practice for Secretaries of Probation Boards
staff who have not attended an oral hearing to attend one with a colleague
before they are required to attend an hearing to give evidence in their own CC:
right. Board Treasurers
Regional Managers
SUMMARY
1. An overview of post-recall procedures and the legal status of hearings AUTHORISED BY:
2. Guidance on the information needed in parole reports for recalled Liz Hill, Head of Public Protection
offenders and Courts Unit
3. Preparation for and attendance at the oral hearing.
ATTACHED:
RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
13/2003 on sharing information Annex A – Template for Report
42/2003 on parole, licence and recall arrangements Annex B – Tips for Dealing with
Difficult Questioning (both
CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES contained within PC Word file)
Kristyn Miller Early Release and Recall Section 020 7217 5546;
Tariq Khan, Early Release and Recall Section 020 7217 5067;
Vicky Quinn, Lifer Review and Recall Section 020 7217 5526;
Matthew Bird, NPD 020 7217 8058.

National Probation Directorate


Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW General Enquiries: 020 7217 0659 Fax: 020 7217 0660
Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection
Purpose
PC 42/2003 contained guidance on the recalling of offenders released from custody on licence. Paragraphs 24-25
touched upon the offender’s right to make representations against recall. This Circular deals specifically with occasions
where those representations will be heard at an oral hearing. The need for this Circular has arisen in particular as a
result of the number of extended sentence recall cases but many of the principles that apply to the handling of those
cases also apply to the handling of life sentence cases.
2. For offenders serving an extended sentence and prisoners recalled to prison from life licence, representations
against recall will almost invariably be heard at an oral hearing. However, the Parole Board will apply different tests in
determining whether or not the recall decision should stand in relation to:
™ extended sentence
™ life sentence cases and
™ ordinary DCR cases.
3. For this reason, this Circular contains detailed guidance about extended sentence and life sentence recall hearings
although the kind of written reports needed in both sets of cases is essentially the same.
4. This Circular has been produced by the Correctional Services as a joint enterprise between the Early Release and
Recall Section, the Lifer Review and Recall Section and the National Probation Directorate. Correctional Services has
consulted the Parole Board closely about its needs.
Action
Chief Officers are asked to bring this Circular to the attention of all relevant staff and to put procedures in place to allow
staff to meet the requirements of this Circular.
Contents
• Representations against recall: cases other than Extended Sentence and Life Sentence Recalls
- Test applied by Parole Board
• Circumstances in which further information may be sought and/or an oral hearing may be required
- Extended Sentence Recalls: representations against recall
- Offender’s rights to make representations
- Test applied by Parole Board
- Role of the National Probation Service
ƒ Written Report
ƒ Attendance of the Probation Officer as a Witness
• Conduct of the Hearing
• The Outcome
• Annual reviews
Representations against recall: cases other than extended sentence and life sentence recalls
5. PC 42/2003, paragraphs 10-23, set out the arrangements for requesting the recall of an offender serving a
determinate sentence. Offenders are entitled to make representations about their recall.
Test applied by the Parole Board
6. It will rarely be necessary for representations by a recalled determinate sentence offender (other than an extended
sentence prisoner) to be heard at an oral hearing. When considering a prisoner’s representations against recall, the
Parole Board shall determine whether:

(i) The prisoner’s liberty would present an unacceptable risk of a further offence being
committed. The type of re-offending involved does not need to involve a risk to public
safety; or
(ii) Whilst on licence, the prisoner failed to comply with one or more of his or her licence
conditions and that failure suggested that the objectives of probation supervision had
been undermined; or
(iii) The prisoner breached the trust placed in him or her by the Secretary of State either by

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failing to comply with one or more of his or her licence conditions, or any other means;
and
(iv) The prisoner is likely to comply with licence conditions in the future, taking into account
in particular the effect of the further period of imprisonment since recall.
Each individual case shall be considered on its merits, and without any discrimination on any
grounds.

7. The Board may decide to release such an offender who was properly recalled if they consider that he or she is likely
to comply with the licence in the future, or no longer poses an unacceptable risk of re-offending.
8. The offender may contest any or all of the grounds for recall in his or her representations. The Parole Board will look
at the offender’s representations in light of the information supplied by the Probation Service or other agencies and come
to a decision on the balance of probabilities.
Circumstances in which further information may be sought and/or an oral hearing required
9. Generally these cases are heard on paper. But if the Parole Board panel cannot decide from reading the revocation
request, the offender's representations and any other relevant information on the dossier, whether the offender should
continue to be detained in prison, they may seek further written information. If this is not appropriate or the information is
not available, they may alternatively order an oral hearing.
10. This is most likely where there is a large discrepancy in the accounts respectively provided by the Probation
Service and the offender about the circumstances leading to the recall. The Panel may seek contemporaneous records
such as hostel logs or witness statements to support the supervising officer’s account of events. If this information is not
available, or the panel is still unable to decide, they will order an oral hearing before a panel of three members, at which
the conflicting accounts are examined and the parties questioned.
Extended Sentence Recalls
11. PC 42/2003 paragraph 21 summarised the arrangements for extended sentence recalls. Prison Service Instruction
06/2004 contains very full information about the treatment of extended sentence prisoners within the Prison Service and a
copy of this can be obtained from ERRS. The purpose of the following advice is to clarify what the Parole Board needs
from probation officers to help it determine the release or otherwise of extended sentence offenders who have been
recalled.
Offender’s rights to make representations
12. All recalled extended sentence prisoners are entitled to have their recall reviewed at an oral hearing of the Parole
Board. Although they are only entitled to appeal once, there is no time limit imposed on the stage at which, following their
recall, they can request the opportunity to make representations. Section 44A (2) of the CJA 1991 (as amended by
section 60 of the Crime & Disorder Act 1998) allows the offender to have his case referred to the Parole Board at any
time following recall. The offender does not have to give reasons for this or make written representations, nor need the
offender have a good prima facie case.
13. In extended sentence cases, where a prisoner is being held for preventative rather than punitive reasons, Article 5
(4) of the ECHR requires that decisions about their liberty should be taken by a court-like body. For these purposes, this
means an oral hearing before the Parole Board.
14. The net effect of the legislative position is that extended sentence offenders who are recalled have an absolute
entitlement, regardless of the merits of their case, to an oral hearing. In theory an offender may choose to have his or her
case considered on papers, but in practice most opt for an oral hearing.
Test applied by the Parole Board
15. Section 44A (2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (as amended by section 60 of the Crime & Disorder Act 1998)
says that on a reference of this kind:
the Board shall direct the prisoner’s release if satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the
public that he should be confined (but not otherwise)
Case law (R ex parte Sim) has ruled that the Parole Board is obliged to conclude it is no longer necessary to detain the
recalled prisoner unless the panel are positively satisfied that the interests of the public require that he be confined. The
same judgement dictates that the public interest will only require the offender’s detention if the panel judges that the
offender poses a risk of sexual or violent offending that cannot properly be controlled in the community. So even if the
panel is satisfied that the recall was properly made, it is obliged to release the prisoner unless satisfied that his or her
detention is necessary in the interests of public safety.

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There are therefore three questions on which the Parole Board has to satisfy itself:
• Was it proper to recall the offender?
• What degree of risk does the offender pose now?
• Can that risk reasonably be managed in the community?
The test the Parole Board applies is the balance of probabilities. It is entitled to take account of hearsay evidence,
opinion, contemporaneous records, and allegations that did not result in a conviction. The process is an inquisitorial one:
it differs from a court procedure, where the Judge or Magistrate plays a neutral role and the contesting parties must prove
their case; in an inquisitorial process such as a Parole Board hearing the panel collects information, examines the issues,
questions those who have relevant information and applies reason to come to a judgement.
Role of the National Probation Service
16. The role of the National Probation Service is therefore to provide the Parole Board with information on:
• The circumstances surrounding the recall
• The risk, if any, that the offender poses to public safety and
• Whether (and in what circumstances) that risk can reasonably be managed in the community.
Written report
17. A written report is always required in advance of the hearing for the Parole Board dossier. The Early Release and
Recall Section will request this report by letter as soon as they receive notice that the offender wishes to make
representations against recall. The letter will be copied to the ACO so that he or she can decide whether input from more
senior officers is needed and for planning and monitoring purposes. It is important that you provide this report in good
time, because the Secretary of State’s representative, the offender and his or her legal adviser all need time to read and
absorb its contents in advance of the panel. The Secretary of State’s representative also needs to take account of it when
writing the Secretary of State’s view, which must itself be submitted in advance. You will usually have a month to provide
the report.
18. Your report will perform a function similar to that of a PSR in a criminal case and a similar level of analysis is
needed. The more detailed the report, the less questioning will be required at the hearing itself. The report may include
hearsay evidence, abstracts of contemporaneous records, opinion and unproven allegations, provided it makes the status
of the information clear, and should include such information if it has a bearing on risk. The report will be disclosed to
the offender’s representatives. If you wish to submit any information that you do not want disclosed to the offender
himself or herself, please refer to Probation Circular 13/2003 about sharing information.
19. A report template is provided at Annex A to assist in the preparation of this document.
20. The report should include:
(i) An account of the circumstances leading to the recall. If the revocation request was very detailed, you can refer the
panel to this but the report should normally detail any other misconduct during the period on licence. If the offender was
recalled because of criminal charges, please give an account of what he was alleged to have done (attach the MG5 form
from the police if you prefer), even if the charges were dropped or the offender acquitted, a view of how credible the
allegations are and whether they should be taken seriously. If you have no details of the incident(s), please let us know
the name and location of the police officer in the case. If the offender failed to respond to requests to contact you, please
satisfy yourself that these requests were sent to the correct address.
(ii) A view of the risk presented by the prisoner. When considering your view, please include an account of:
• the offending history, including an account of the index offence. This is often omitted from the PSR, which quite
reasonably assumes the court knows what the offender did. Any pattern of offending, or escalation in offending
behaviour, should be identified. Include records of offending behaviour that did not result in a conviction, e.g.,
social services interventions to protect the offender’s children, charges on which he was acquitted, etc.
• Formal risk assessments (e.g., Matrix 2000, OASys ROH) and any views you have about risk based on the
offender’s behaviour and apparent attitudes
• If relevant, how the offender’s behaviour while on licence fits in with his offending pattern or otherwise throws light
on his risk or the feasibility of managing it in the community.
• Any interventions made while on licence (or indeed, before release), e.g. offence related programs, and the
offender’s progress. Attach post-course feedback reports if available. The successful completion of offending
behaviour programmes is central to any consideration of risk and it is important that the panel have as much
relevant information as possible.

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• Whether, in your opinion, the prisoner’s risk can reasonably be managed in the community, and under what
circumstances: e.g., licence conditions, offending behaviour courses, hostel residence, whatever is relevant
(iii) A detailed release plan. The Parole Board needs to know what the proposed release arrangements are in order to
decide whether the risk can reasonably be managed in the community. You must provide this even if you do not think it is
safe to release the offender. The Parole Board can and does release offenders in circumstances where the supervising
officer would prefer they did not and you should be aware that if the panel decides to release the offender he or she
would normally be released within 5 days of the hearing. You need to bear this in mind when considering the need to
arrange provisional places in approved premises and meetings under MAPP Arrangements at either Level 2 or 3.
Probation circular 42/2003 gives up-to-date guidance about additional licence conditions that are acceptable and
enforceable.
(iv) Comments relating to Victims Charter Issues.
21. ERRS will also request reports from the Prison Service and from the prison’s seconded probation officer.

The Hearing
Attendance of Probation Officer as Witness
22. The calling of witnesses is governed by Parole Board Rule 151:
15
1. Where a party wishes to call witnesses at the hearing, he shall make a written
application to the Board, a copy of which he shall serve on the other party, within 20
weeks of the case being listed, giving the name, address and occupation of the witness
he wishes to call and the substance of the evidence he proposes to adduce.
2. Where the Board wishes to call witnesses at the hearing, the chair of the panel should
notify the parties, within 21 weeks of the case being listed, giving the name, address
and occupation of the witness it wishes to call and the substance of the evidence it
proposes to adduce.
3. The chair of the panel may grant or refuse an application under paragraph (1) and shall
communicate his decision to both parties, giving reasons in writing for his decision in
the case of a refusal.
4. Where a witness is called under paragraphs (1) or(2), it shall be the duty of the person
calling the witness to notify the witness at least 2 weeks before the date of the hearing
and the need to attend.

23. The “parties” mentioned in Rule 15 are the offender (and his representative) and the Secretary of State (in the
person of his representative from the Early Release and Recall Section). Both parties are entitled to ask to call
witnesses, and these requests are invariably granted. The Secretary of State will in almost every case seek to call the
offender’s supervising officer as a witness.
24. Staff in the Early Release and Recall Section will contact the officer who appears to be the supervising officer. This
will often be the officer who initiated the recall, particularly if the invitation is issued before receipt of the report described
in paragraphs 17-21 above. If the wrong officer is invited, please telephone the number given on the invitation and tell
them so. SPOs or ACOs may decide that they would be better placed to attend the hearing. In this instance, they must
ensure they are adequately briefed. Witness notification information is routinely copied to ACOs for planning and
monitoring purposes.
25. Alternatively, SPOs or ACOs may wish to attend the hearing in support of the staff member who has been called to
give evidence. This can be arranged through the Early Release and Recall Section but will require the offender’s consent.
26. It will occasionally be necessary to invite additional probation service witnesses such as managers of approved
premises. While case law (R ex parte Sim) confirms that the Parole Board is entitled to take account of hearsay evidence
such as the supervising officer’s account of what other probation staff reported, it also makes clear that justice will
sometimes require that additional witnesses be called so that the offender can question them directly. The attendance of
additional witnesses may be unnecessary when adequate written records, for example, case records or approved
premises’ records such as the daily log or witness statements are provided at an early stage.
27. The High Court judgement in the recent case of Brooks made it clear that the Parole Board has the power to
compel the attendance of witnesses through a court summons. Although this would be very much a last resort for the
Board, which both it and Early Release and Recall Section would wish to avoid, the Board will certainly use it if it is

1
For a copy of the Parole Board rules staff may refer to the Parole Board website at www.paroleboard.gov.uk

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routinely faced with a failure to attend hearings by the NPS. Failure to respond to a summons would amount to a
contempt of court, which is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment.
Conduct of the Hearing

28. When attending the hearing, please bring with you all relevant documents, eg. contact logs, copies of the offender’s
supervision plan etc., and familiarise yourself with the revocation request, which is likely to be scrutinised in evidence. It is
important to arrive early to allow plenty of time to move through prison security and to meet with the Secretary of State’s
representative who will discuss the case with you and attempt to alleviate any concerns you may have about the process.
29. The conduct of the hearing itself is governed by the Parole Board Rules. The relevant rules are:
Hearing procedure
19
1. At the beginning of the hearing the chair of the panel shall explain the order of
proceeding which the panel proposes to adopt and shall invite each party present to
state their view as to the suitability of the prisoner for release.
2. The panel shall avoid formality in the proceedings and so far as possible shall make its
own enquiries in order to satisfy itself of the level of risk of the prisoner; it shall
conduct the hearing in such manner as it considers most suitable to the clarification of
the issues before it and generally to the just handling of the proceedings.
3. The parties shall be entitled to appear and be heard at the hearing and take such part in
the proceedings as the panel thinks fit; and the parties may hear each other's evidence,
put questions to each other, call any witnesses who the Board has authorised to give
evidence in accordance with rule 15, and put questions to any witness or other person
appearing before the panel.
4. The chair of the panel may require any person present at the hearing who is, in his
opinion, behaving in a disruptive manner to leave and may permit him to return, if at all,
only on such conditions as the chair may specify.
5. The panel may adduce or receive in evidence any document or information
notwithstanding that such document or information would be inadmissible in a court of
law but, subject to the requirements of rules 6 and 7, no person shall be compelled to
give any evidence or produce any document which he could not be compelled to give or
produce on the trial of an action.
6. The chair of the panel may require the prisoner, or any witness appearing for the
prisoner, or any other person present, to leave the hearing where evidence is being
examined which the chair of the panel, in accordance with rule 8(2)(d) (subject to any
successful appeal under rule 8(2)) previously directed should be withheld from the
prisoner as adversely affecting national security, the prevention of disorder or crime or
the health or welfare of the prisoner or others.
7. After all the evidence has been given, the prisoner shall be given a further opportunity
to address the panel.

30. It is important to note that representatives of the National Probation Service attending the hearing are not on trial
and are not required to prove any case. Their role is to clarify the information contained in the written report and answer
any outstanding questions about the recall and the offender’s risk of further sexual or violent offending.

31. Typically, the Secretary of State’s representative will ask questions first, followed by the offender’s representative,
and finally the panel members will seek to clear up any issues where they need more detail. The Secretary of State’s
representative may then take the opportunity to re-examine the probation officer. Again, the panel is entitled to take
account of hearsay & information from third parties, opinion, allegations that did not result in a conviction, and references
to contemporaneous records (see Parole Board Rule 19(5) above).

32. The offender will normally be represented by a barrister or solicitor, who may be unfamiliar with tribunal procedures
and may seek to conduct his or her case as in a court of law. This may lead to adversarial questioning, which the
chairman of the panel should not allow. Annex B attached gives practical advice on dealing with difficult questioning
styles and either ERRS or the Lifer Review & Recall Section (LRRS) may be able to give further advice on this. It would
be good practice for those responsible for probation officers’ continuing professional development to arrange for officers
who have not done so to observe a hearing. This can be arranged through the Parole Board Secretariat. However, the

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cost of attending a hearing is borne by Areas in the public interest and it would therefore be sensible to arrange
attendance at a local prison via ERRS rather than travelling a long distance because a colleague happens to be doing so.
The Outcome

33. The Panel will not announce its decision at the hearing. The Parole Board will normally write to ERRS within five
days of the hearing with the Panel’s decision. ERRS will then relay the information to the supervising officer by phone
and fax in order that communication and liaison between the prison, probation and other agencies responsible for
managing the risks presented, can take place promptly. Release plans and plans to manage risk of harm should be
implemented immediately. A decision to release does not normally mean that the recall was unjustified; rather, that the
Panel believes the offender’s risk can reasonably be managed in the community. If you have questions about the
implications of any Parole Board decision, please contact ERRS who can discuss the issues with you.

34. If the decision is to release, you should note that the offender will normally be released within a few days. The
Parole Board’s decision is not subject to appeal and is absolutely binding on the Secretary of State.
Annual Reviews

35. In the event that the panel are satisfied that the risk posed by the offender cannot be reasonably managed in the
community and they direct his or her continued detention, he/she will be entitled to have their further detention reviewed
at regular intervals. These reviews will also take the form of an oral hearing before the Parole Board and they will
commence one year after the original representations against recall were rejected and continue every year until the
Parole Board are satisfied that the level of risk has been sufficiently reduced or until the offenders are automatically
released on their licence expiry date. In the latter circumstances the offenders will be placed on licence until their
sentence expiry date to ensure they are subject to some period of community supervision.

36. The focus of annual reviews will be on the time offenders have spent in prison since recall and any effect this may
have had on their attitude towards their offending and their level of risk. The Secretary of State will not be represented but
there will still be a need for up to date reports from the home probation officer and the seconded probation officer. The
report required for these proceedings takes the form of a regular Parole Assessment Report and should address the
progress the offender has made rather than the circumstances of the original recall. There may also be a need for the
home probation officer to attend as a witness.

37. The arrangements for annual reviews are handled by the parole clerk at the relevant establishment and they are
responsible for collating the hearing dossier, including notifying the probation officer of the need for an up to date report.
The responsibilities of parole clerks are set out for their information in PSO 6000. If there is a need for probation officers
to attend these proceedings as witnesses, they will be notified of this requirement and the relevant hearing date by the
Early Release and Recall Section acting on the Board’s instructions.

Life Sentence Cases

38. The similarities in relation to the National Probation Service’s involvement in extended sentence and life sentence
recall oral hearings are much greater than the differences. The role of the National Probation Service identified in
paragraph 15 above, the principles surrounding the provision of written reports identified in paragraphs 16-19 above, the
hearing itself and the conduct of the hearing identified in paragraphs 22 to 32 above are all essentially the same in both
types of cases. This Section of the Circular concentrates therefore on any notable differences there are between
extended sentence and life sentence cases.

39. The test applied by the Parole Board for the consideration of life sentence recall cases is the same as that applied
to their consideration of whether life sentence prisoners may be released in the first place. For this purpose the Parole
Board must be satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner should be confined
and that the risk to life and limb posed by the prisoner to others is no more than minimal. There is nothing to prevent the
Parole Board from considering all risk factors, including previous convictions, when considering such cases.

40. Essential features of life sentence cases that you should note here are as follows:

• LRRS requests the release plan from the Probation Service once it is known that the licensee has arrived in
custody following recall. We do not wait until we receive a notice that the offender wishes to make
representations against recall. The release plan is forwarded to the prisoner as soon as it is received.

• LRRS will aim to disclose the Secretary of State’s view on whether the prisoner should be re-released or
whether he/she should remain in detention as much in advance of the hearing as possible.

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• Life sentence prisoners do not have annual reviews by the Parole Board. If the oral hearing to consider the
prisoner’s representations against recall does not result in the prisoner’s release, the timing of the next review
is determined on the individual facts of the case though the statutory maximum period between successive
Parole Board reviews is two years.

Liz Hill, Head – Public Protection and Courts Unit

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Annex A

REPORT TEMPLATE

1. INTRODUCTION
a. Author’s professional background, training, qualifications and experience
b. An account of the supervision of the offender, including any programmes.

2. CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE RECALL


a. A full picture of the events / circumstances leading to recall
b. The offender’s general compliance and attitude to being on licence.

3. A VIEW OF THE RISK PRESENTED BY THE PRISONER


When considering your view, please include an account of:
a. The offending history, including an account of the index offence and offending behaviour that did not
result in a conviction, e.g., social services interventions, charges on which he was acquitted, etc.
b. Any relevant information about compliance during earlier periods under supervision.
c. An account of formal risk assessments and your assessment of the risk the offender poses, whether it
can be managed in the community and any necessary licence conditions.

4. A DETAILED RELEASE PLAN


a. The Parole Board needs to know what the proposed release arrangements are in order to decide whether
the risk can reasonably be managed in the community. What work has been done? What work needs to
be done? What work needs to be re-done?
b. Accommodation referrals and outcome.
c. Details of external support (family, friends, etc.)

5. COMMENTS RELATING TO VICTIMS CHARTER ISSUES

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Annex B

DEALING WITH DIFFICULT QUESTIONING

The oral hearing process is designed as inquisitorial and as a means for the Parole Board panel to establish the facts of a
recall and make an informed decision about risk. As such, the style of questioning employed by all parties should not
become adversarial. In circumstances where an offender’s legal representative adopts an overly challenging questioning
style with the Secretary of State’s witness, the panel will generally direct him/her to change their style. Alternately, the
Secretary of State’s representative will not hesitate to remind the panel of the intended nature of the hearing if he/she
feels their witness is being treated unfairly.

The following points may help those preparing to attend an oral hearing as a witness, to deal with questioning generally
and with any difficult questioning styles that may be encountered:

1. Being well prepared will increase your confidence, but do not feel that you cannot refer to your file or notes if you
need to. The panel recognise that it has generally been at least a couple of months since the offender’s recall
took place and that your memory may need refreshing or you may need to confirm specific details.

2. Direct your answers to the Chair of the panel. He/She will be the middle of the three panel members. Ultimately it
is the panel that require the information you are there to provide and it will divert your attention from any tactics of
distraction that the prisoner’s legal representative may seek to employ.

3. Do not comment on matters that you are not qualified to consider. If you are asked a question that is beyond your
realm of professional expertise, point this out and say that you cannot answer it. You are there in your capacity as
a Probation Officer, not a Psychiatrist or Psychologist, and the panel know this. Similarly, if you are asked a
question that you do not have the factual knowledge to answer, just say so.

4. Do not be intimidated by questions that are focused on the ‘fairness’ of circumstances or that criticise how likely
something is to happen quickly. The panel are concerned with risk. They are also aware that the Probation
Service operates with limited resources and that it is not always possible to obtain everything an offender needs
to address their risk factors in what is often a very limited period of time.

5. Similarly, do not be concerned if the offender’s legal representative attempts to restrict you to a ‘yes/no’ line of
questioning. Try to expand on your answers, with reference to risk, if possible. Otherwise the Secretary of State’s
representative will give you the opportunity to provide more information during their questioning of you as their
witness.

6. Do not be intimidated by questions that seek to undermine your professional credibility or criticise your report.
The Secretary of State’s representative will have the opportunity to ask questions of you and they will use this to
highlight what has happened and ask you questions that address these areas, if necessary.

7. Do not worry if your answers or opinions do not coincide with the position of the Secretary of State as presented
by his representative on the day. The panel are there to consider all available information and perspectives and to
make a decision on the balance of factors that work both for and against the offender.

PC45B/2004 - Parole Board: Oral Hearings of Offenders' Representations against Recall 10


National Directorate

TO: All Chairs, Chief Officers and Our Ref


Secretaries of Probation Areas Your Ref
in England and Wales Date 30 July 2004

Dear Colleague

EXTENDED SENTENCE ORAL HEARINGS

I am writing further to Probation Circular 45/2004 on oral hearings of offenders’


representations against recall, and PC34/2004 on parole assessment reports.

The purpose of this letter is to make a personal request that you, with Recall Liaison
Officers and other relevant colleagues, take a personal look at local systems with a
view to improving performance in this area. We are very concerned at recent
feedback from the Parole Board that there has been a significant reduction in the
quality of probation reports around parole and recall. I was particularly concerned
to hear recently that a probation officer that had declined to attend a lifer hearing
had also declined to be involved in the case by video-conference. The decision not
to attend may have been the right one. But opportunities to capitalise on new
technologies, such as video-conferencing, are precisely the sort of opportunity we
should be looking at very carefully with a view to maintaining or improving our
performance while helping our colleagues to manage their caseloads.

We are aware that there is some uncertainty in Areas around attendance by


probation officers at oral hearings. The guidance attached will, I hope, make clear
the position and the priority that should be accorded to this work. Prisoners who are
subject to an extended sentence will, almost by definition, fall into the higher risk
categories. Moreover, the supervising probation officer will almost certainly have
played a key role in the recall against which the prisoner is appealing. The High
Court judgement in the recent case of Brooks made it clear that the Parole Board
has the power to compel the attendance of witnesses. I believe this would be very
much a last resort for the Board, which it would wish to avoid as much as the NPS.
Nevertheless, we must do everything we can to avoid pushing the Board to that
extreme.

As you will know, we held a training day for Recall Liaison Officers around oral

Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection


National Probation Directorate, Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London SW1P 2AW
Tel 020 7 217 0737 Fax 020 7217 0660 Email steve.murphy@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
hearings at the end of April. As a member of the Parole Board since 1995, I have
had the opportunity to view our work as a consumer, as well as a producer. I know
how valued it is when we get it right, and how potentially difficult it can be if that
work should fall below our usual standards. This guidance is designed to make sure
that we sustain our reputation for high standards in this vital area of public
protection work.

I would ask you to consider with Recall Liaison Officers on their return what work
needs to be done, firstly to cascade relevant information in the Area; and secondly
to raise our game on parole issues across the board.

Yours

Stephen Murphy CBE


Director General, NPS for England & Wales

Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection


National Probation Directorate, Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London SW1P 2AW
Tel 020 7 217 0737 Fax 020 7217 0660 Email steve.murphy@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk