Compassionate temporary release scheme (sentences prisoners)
Compassionate Temporary Release (CTR) is granted under the general provision of Rule 27 of the Prison and Young Offenders Centre Rules (Northern Ireland) 1995, subject to a satisfactory risk assessment.
All sentenced prisoners may apply for CTR. An application is considered in the following circumstances:
- in the case of the death of a member of the prisoner's immediate family, and this must be verified
- in the case of the critical illness of a member of the prisoner's *immediate family
Immediate family is interpreted to cover only the prisoner's husband or wife (including a partner with whom the person was living immediately before reception), parent or child (or having ‘in loco parentis’ relationship to the prisoner), grandparents or grandchildren, brother or sister.
In the case of the death of a member of the prisoner's immediate family, and this must be verified, a period of temporary release may be granted.
In the case of the critical illness of a member of the prisoner's immediate family, approval may be given for a daytime temporary release of an agreed duration, after medical evidence confirms the seriousness of the illness.
Home visits scheme
Temporary release to allow a home visit is subject to a satisfactory risk assessment and may be granted in circumstances where a member of the prisoner's immediate family is not very seriously or critically ill but is chronically ill or infirm and housebound and is physically unable to visit the prisoner.
In such cases applications will be considered for one day time visit of agreed duration, including travelling time, every 6 months (a maximum of 2 per year), provided the following criteria are satisfied:
- the prisoner, either determinate or indeterminate (life sentence), has served 6 years or more in custody
- the member of the prisoner's *immediate family is confirmed as chronically ill and house-bound and a visit to the prison would be physically impossible
- the member of the prisoner's immediate family has been unable to visit for at least 18 months prior to the qualifying period of custody
- a prisoner who has been granted Compassionate Temporary Release (CTR) to visit either the subject of a Home Visit or another immediate relative at the same address, or who lives in the same immediate area- will not be eligible to be considered for a Home Visit until 6 months have elapsed from the date when CTR was granted
Immediate family is interpreted to cover only the prisoner's husband or wife (including a partner with whom the person was living immediate before reception), parent or child (or having ‘in loco parentis’ relationship to the prisoner), grandparents, grandchildren, brother or sister.
It will be the prisoner's responsibility to provide documentary medical evidence of their relative's incapacity to visit the prison for the first application and subsequently, only for alternate applications.
When a prisoner becomes eligible for any form of Pre- Release Home and Resettlement Leave, or Home Leave at Christmas he/she will lose his/her eligibility to be considered for a Home Visit.
Pre-release home and resettlement leave
The purpose of Pre-Release Home and Resettlement Leave is to help the prisoner's self-confidence by placing trust in him under conditions of complete freedom and to help him to re-adjust to life outside by giving him an opportunity, before final release, to renew his home ties and to get in touch with prospective employers. Pre-release leave is neither a right nor an entitlement. It is a privilege to be earned.
For determinate sentence prisoners eligibility is based on the length of continuous custody.
Pre-release home and resettlement leave will normally be granted by the Home Leave Resettlement Board in each establishment, however, the Governor or his deputy retains the right to veto any decision made by the Board.
For Lifers, the prime considerations in granting periods of temporary release are the measure of risk to the public together with the potential impact upon victims.
A Lifer may only be considered for parole if the Multi-disciplinary Team (Governor, prison staff, Psychology and Probation members) considers it appropriate and necessary in order to meet the needs of his sentence plan.
Lifers start the parole process in the later stages of their sentence. Usually, they start by going out on short periods of supervised temporary release, which if successful may lead to unaccompanied periods and eventually, if appropriate, longer phases in the community as part of a tailored pre-release scheme from the Working Out Unit in Belfast.
Eligibility for pre-release home and resettlement leave:
1. For those prisoners who do not have a tariff:
- Ministerial permission is required.
2. For prisoners who are within 3 years of tariff:
- The Lifer Management Unit will act in accordance with any recommendations of the Life Sentence Review Commissioners' pre-tariff review findings
- In the absence of a pre-tariff review, the Multi-disciplinary Team may seek Ministerial permission
3. For prisoners who are within 1 year of tariff:
- The Life Sentence Governor may directly authorise periods of leave on foot of the recommendations from the Multi-disciplinary Team.
The maximum number of parole days that a Life sentence prisoner can have in any on year is limited to 15.
Home leave at Christmas
Home Leave at Christmas may be granted to those prisoners who meet the eligibility criteria and who have a satisfactory risk assessment. Ministerial approval is required annually for the Home Leave at Christmas Scheme.
Welfare Reports/Child Protection Protocols:
Following the introduction of agreed inter-agency Child Protection protocols, any otherwise eligible prisoner who has been convicted of any offence contained in Schedule 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968, or any offence contained in Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 or who has served a previous custodial sentence for any such offence or whose identity has been disclosed by the relevant Social Services Authority to the Prison or Probation Services Authorities as a person under investigation, will not be granted Home Leave at Christmas until the Prison Service is satisfied that all appropriate authorities and professional advisors have been consulted and that the prisoner can be successfully managed on Temporary Release.
Temporary release for medical purposes
All prisoners other than those who are:
- remanded in custody by any court
- committed in custody for trial
- unsentenced prisoners or inmates
can be considered for temporary release for in-patient or out-patient hospital care, because such care cannot await the patient's release or cannot be provided within the prison.
Prior to prisoners being released on medical leave they receive very clear instructions about their behaviour at the hospital. Prisoners must sign a licence regarding behaviour while on temporary release.
Any prisoner who is refused medical leave is advised that the appropriate security and administrative arrangements will be put in hand to enable him to receive necessary in-patient or out-patient hospital care.