The majority of prisoners are released from prison automatically at the halfway stage of their sentence. However, some prisoners need to apply to the Parole Board in order to attain release from prison. A life sentence prisoner or a prisoner serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence will only be able to be released from prison if they satisfy the Parole Board that it is safe to do so; if the Parole Board never deems them safe to be released they will remain in prison for the rest of their lives as their sentences do not provide for any form of automatic release. The Parole Board is also involved in the release of prisoners serving extended sentences and sentences for offenders of particular concern (for terrorist or serious child sex offences). In these cases the Parole Board has the power to release them before the expiry of their full sentence (after two-thirds of the sentence has been served for most prisoners serving an extended sentence and after the halfway point in the sentence for an offender of particular concern) but, if they are not satisfied that they are safe to be released early, offenders serving these sentences will eventually be released automatically once they have served their full sentence. The Parole Board also considers the re-release of prisoners who have been released from prison but subsequently recalled for a breach of their licence conditions.

The test for release is that: ‘The Parole Board must not give a direction for release unless the Board is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the person should be confined’.

The Parole Board’s website explains its work: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/our-work and how it makes its decisions: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-we-make-our-decisions