What is recall?

When someone is released from prison ‘on licence’ or on parole, they are supervised by an Offender Manager. On release, they will be given a copy of their licence with all the conditions they need to adhere to. If they do not keep to the conditions of their license then they could be recalled and brought back to prison.

A person can be recalled if:

  • they commit another crime or are charged with another crime or,
  • they are behaving in a way that leads their Offender Manager to think they might be about to commit another crime. For example, if they start drinking heavily and often get violent when they are drunk or,
  • they break the conditions of their licence.

What happens if someone is recalled to prison?

If someone is to be recalled to prison for breaching their licence then the police will arrest them and take them back to prison. Their licence will be revoked meaning that their licence to live in the community has been taken from them and they must be returned to prison.

How long will they be in prison for?

The length of time a prisoner who has been recalled will have to serve in prison depends on the type of recall they are subject to. There are three different types of recall:

  • Fixed term recall. For a fixed period of 28 days. Prisoners are eligible for this unless they are serving a sentence for a violent or a sexual offence, they are serving an extended sentence, they have been recalled before on the same sentence or they were recalled before their automatic release date having being released early under the Home Detention Curfew scheme or compassionate grounds.  
  • Standard recall. This applies to prisoners not eligible for a fixed recall because they are serving a sentence for a violent or a sexual offence, they are serving an extended sentence or because it is felt they are too much of a risk to be eligible for a fixed term recall. This type of recall can result in the prisoner remaining in custody until the end of their sentence or until the parole board deems them suitable for release.
  • Emergency recall. When a prisoner is eligible for standard recall but their risk of harm or risk of reoffending is deemed too serious to warrant release.

What happens next?

All prisoners are given the reasons for their recall and given the opportunity to make representations to the parole board. They should do this with the help of their solicitor. The parole board will then have the opportunity to view all the papers relating to the recall, including any representations made by the prisoner. They must then decide on one of four things:

  • Order the prisoner’s immediate release back onto licence or,
  • Refuse immediate release but order their release at a future date or,
  • Make no recommendation at all or,
  • Send their case to an oral hearing.

Can the prisoner appeal against the decision of the Parole Board?

The prisoner will be given the full reasons for the Parole Board’s decision. They can then either accept it or request a hearing in front of the Parole Board in person. This is called an ‘oral hearing’ and it takes place in the prison where the prisoner is being held. At the oral hearing the prisoner can give evidence and call witnesses. There has to be a strong argument in favour of an oral hearing as one will not be granted purely on the basis that the prisoner wants one. At the oral hearing the Parole Board will make one of the decisions above.

 What if the Parole Board refuses to release the prisoner after an oral hearing?

 If the Parole Board refuses to release a prisoner after conducting an oral hearing, the only way the decision can be challenged further is by way of judicial review proceedings in the Administrative Court. This is a complicated procedure and a prisoner should seek legal advice before pursuing this course of action.