Recall to prison

Release from prison and recall

When a person is released from prison on license or on parole, they will be provided with a copy of their license, including all the conditions attached to their release. If any of these conditions are breached, they risk being recalled to prison to serve the remainder of the sentence.

A prisoner may also be recalled for other reasons at any point during the term of their license by the Secretary of State.

When will a person be recalled?

A person may be recalled to prison if:

  • They breach any of the license conditions attached to their release;
  • They commit a further offence during their license;
  • They are charged with another offence during the term of their license;
  • The person is behaving in such a way that their Offender Manager (the person responsible for their supervision) reasonably believes that they will go on to commit a further offence – for instance, behaviour that involves heavy drinking or the use of drugs.

What are the effects of recall?

If someone is to be recalled to prison following a breach of conditions (or for another reason), the police will arrest the person and take them back to the relevant prison. Their license is then considered revoked, and that person is no longer eligible to live in the community.

How a person is told of their recall

When a person is to be recalled to prison and their license to live in the community is revoked, their Offender Manager will either:

  • Write to the recalled person informing them of the recall, or;
  • Arrange for the recalled person’s arrest by the police. This is usually used in circumstances where the recalled person has committed a further offence during their license or whom poses a serious risk to the safety of the public.

The person will have the chance to make representations to the Parole Board who will consider their case and make its decision as what should happen next; for example, order immediate release (see below).

On return to prison

If a recalled prisoner has returned to prison, they will be provided with a copy of the report explaining the reasons for their recall. They will also see a report provided by their Offender Manager providing their professional opinion.

Types of Recall

There are three types of recall. The length of time the prisoner must spent in prison depends on the type of recall to which they are subject.

Fixed term recall

A fixed term recall lasts 28 days (14 days if the original prison sentence is under 12 months) and prisoners are eligible only if they have not committed a serious sexual offence or a violent offence. There are other instances where a prisoner is not eligible for fixed term recall, including if they are serving an extended sentence or are high risk.

Following release after 28 days, the prisoner will remain on license, possibly with additional conditions added to the license. If the prisoner breaches any condition again, the prisoner may be recalled again.

It may be possible, depending on the procedure of the prison, to make representations to the parole board immediately, who may agree to reduce the 28-day fixed term recall.

Standard recall

Standard recall applies to prisoners who are not eligible for a fixed term recall. A standard recall means if recall is required, the prisoner will remain in prison to serve the remainder of their sentence.

They may be released on the discretion of the parole board if it believes the prisoner will not commit any further offence whilst on license, or is not considered a danger to the wider public.

With a standard recall, even if the prisoner does not make any direct representations for his further release, their case will be automatically sent to the parole board after 28 days following the recall.

The parole board may either decide to release the prisoner straight away, or fix a date within 12 months of the recall date for the prisoner to be further released on license.

Where a person is serving an extended sentence, their case will be automatically transferred to the parole board within 14 days of their recall date. The prisoner will be informed of their hearing date, and will then be informed if and when the parole board decides on a release date.

Emergency recall

Emergency recall applies to prisoners who would otherwise be eligible for standard recall – but the prisoner poses such a risk to the public, or there is a real risk of reoffending, that immediate detention is warranted.

What happens after a person is recalled?

Following a person’s recall to prison they will be provided with full reasons for their recall. The prisoner will have the opportunity to make full representations to the parole board – they should consult a solicitor for expert help with this. The parole board will be provided with all the relevant papers and evidence needed to make an informed decision about the prisoner’s possible release.

The parole board then has four options available to them:

  • Order the prisoner’s immediate release back into the community on license;
  • Refuse the prisoner’s immediate release but order a future review for the prisoner to be released at a later date;
  • Make no recommendations at all;
  • Send the prisoner’s case forward to a full oral hearing.

Making representations

When a prisoner is making representation to a parole board for their release they will need to tell the parole board why they believe they can be safely released back into the community. These representations must be made within 2 weeks of the prisoner being given full reasons for their recall.

Representations can be made by the prisoner themselves, a friend or family member, or their legal advisor. Prison staff will be able to provide a full explanation of the process to the prisoner if required.

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Article written by...
Nicola Laver LLB
Nicola Laver LLB

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A non-practising solicitor, Nicola is also a fully qualified journalist. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a legal journalist, editor and author.