HC Deb 09 March 1994 vol 239 c233W
Mr. Nicholls

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances those convicted of rape and other serious crimes are permitted to enjoy periods of absence from prison for social reasons.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Mr. Patrick Nicholls, dated 9 March 1994: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the circumstances in which those convicted of rape and other serious crimes are permitted to enjoy periods of absence from prison. Under Prison Rule 6, prison governors have powers to allow temporary release to sentenced prisoners. Temporary release may be granted to a prisoner under Prison Rule 6(2) "for any special purpose or to enable him to engage in employment, to receive instruction or training or to assist him in the transition from prison life to freedom". Temporary release is not, however, available to unconvicted and convicted unsentenced prisoners; sentenced prisoners who are remanded on further charges; persons detained under the Immigration Act 1971; prisoners who are subject to extradition proceedings; prisoners who are considered to be mentally ill or suffering from mental disorder or have been committed to prison as a place of safety; and prisoners who are in Category A or on the escape list. Before temporary release may be granted, governors must be satisfied that a prisoner can be trusted both to abstain from crime during a period of temporary release and to return to prison afterwards. In addition, governors are required to consult headquarters before temporary release may be granted to certain categories of prisoners. These include prisoners serving 10 years or more and not within 12 months of release and prisoners convicted at any time of a serious sexual offence. A review of the present arrangements has recently been undertaken. The conclusions and recommendations are now being considered.