Martin Jones, 'Guidance to members' (Parole Board, 20/3/20)
Parole Board coronavirus guidance The guidance from the PB CEO's Twitter account is: (1) The Parole Board is considering changes to guidance, so that fewer cases are directed to oral hearing. (2) The views of the prisoner or representative will be sought but the decision on whether an oral hearing is needed lies with the panel chairman. (3) At oral hearings, panel members, legal representatives, witnesses and victims may be allowed to undertake video/telephone links from home to try to avoid delay to hearings. (4) If one panel member cannot attend owing to coronavirus then the hearing should proceed wherever possible. (5) More cases will be concluded by a single panel member.
This latest guidance appeared on Twitter only.
We are doing everything in our power to progress parole cases where possible, whilst keeping people safe, and are exploring new avenues to do so amid the coronavirus outbreak. Today, we have issued fresh guidance to members which I will outline below.
Our principles do not change:
- Protection of the public
- The test for release
When deciding if any changes need to be made to a hearing or panel, our touch-stone is whether these would undermine the fairness of proceedings.
We are urgently considering whether any changes can or should be made to our guidance on directing cases to oral hearing in light of the current exceptional circumstances, which may make oral hearings difficult to maintain, and will be publishing further updates in due course.
Where hearings are needed, the Board is trying to be as flexible as possible with facilitating oral hearings where appropriate. This may include allowing panel members, legal reps and witnesses to undertake video/telephone links from home to try and avoid delay to hearings.
Victims will be invited to consider remote attendance, to keep them safe, or agree the panel can rely on the written statement. The views of the prisoner or rep will always be sought before deciding if an oral hearing is needed but the final decision lies with the panel chair
Where a panel member can no longer attend a hearing due to coronavirus (ie: self-isolating) that hearing may be cancelled if the remainder of the panel feel they cannot proceed, but the emphasis will be to proceed wherever possible, as long as it is fair and appropriate.
More cases will be concluded by a single panel member to ensure we maximise the use of our people to progress as many cases as we can.
I would like to finish by saying we are grateful to all those working together to ensure cases go ahead. Stay safe.
Older guidance published on the Gov.uk website (which don't merit their own MHLO page):