Most prisoners in prison on determinate, ie fixed, sentences will be released at the half-way point of their sentence and will spend the remaining months or years of their sentence ‘on licence’. Being released on licence allows the prisoner to reintegrate into the community, rebuild family ties and helps to prevent re-offending.

What does being ‘on licence’ mean?

Being released ‘on licence’ means that for the rest of their sentence the released prisoner must stick to certain conditions. Time spent ‘on licence’ in the community is supervised by probation.

Before release from prison the prisoner will be given the licence and have the conditions explained, copies of the licence will also be kept by the prison as well as being sent to the probation supervisor. Copies will also be sent to the local Police force in the area where the prisoner will live and to the National Identification Service  at the Metropolitan Police.

The paper licence received by the prisoner will include the seven standard conditions set out below as well as any extra conditions that the Offender Manager judges necessary to enable progress and prevent future trouble. The prison should fully explain all of the licence conditions before release. If the licence conditions are broken the prisoner may be sent back to prison.

What are the standard licence conditions?

There are seven standard licence conditions for prisoners serving determinate sentences

(a) be of good behaviour and not behave in a way which undermines the purpose of the licence period
(b) not commit any offence
(c) keep in touch with the supervising officer in accordance with instructions given by the supervising officer
(d) receive visits from the supervising officer in accordance with instructions given by the supervising officer
(e) reside permanently at an address approved by the supervising officer and obtain the prior permission of the supervising officer for any stay of one or more nights at a different address
(f) not undertake work, or a particular type of work, unless it is approved by the supervising officer and notify the supervising officer in advance of any proposal to undertake work or a particular type of work
(g) not travel outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man except with the prior permission of your supervising officer or for the purposes of immigration deportation or removal.

(Source: Ministry of Justice – PSI 12/2015)

Extra conditions may also be imposed under one of the following categories:

(1)        residence at a specified place
(2)        restriction of residency
(3)        making or maintaining contact with a person
(4)        participation in, or co-operation with, a programme or set of activities
(5)        possession, ownership, control or inspection of specified items or documents
(6)        disclosure of information
(7)        curfew arrangement
(8)        freedom of movement
(9)        supervision in the community by the supervising officer, or other responsible officer, or organisation 

A new additional licence condition, to require certain people convicted of sexual offences in England and Wales to undergo polygraph examinations became available on 6 January 2014. There are also specific additional licence conditions which can be used for extremist prisoners only, more information can be found in Annex B of the PSI 12/2015.

These extra conditions must be judged necessary for the individual and must be applied proportionately to the prisoner. Over time these will be reviewed and may be amended/ cancelled. The extra conditions use standard wording set out in PSI 12/2015 (annex A)


What happens if a person on licence breaks the terms of their licence?
If a person on licence breaks the terms and conditions of their licence they may be recalled to prison immediately, or, depending on the circumstances, receive a warning the first or second time they break the conditions of their licence. If the person breaches their licence for a third time they will be recalled to prison.

How long will the licence apply?
How long a person remains on licence depends on the length of the sentence, the age at conviction and the date of conviction. This will be stated in the licence.  

This page was updated on November 2018