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The Work of the Parole Board – Professor Nick Hardwick

A talk by Professor Nick Hardwick from Royal Holloway University of London, delivered on Wednesday 2 May 2018.

It is a pleasure to be here in Lincoln’s Inn and I am grateful for the chance to reflect on some of the tumult that has engulfed the parole system over the last few months.

I accepted the invitation to give this lecture last August. To be frank, I was a little anxious about what I could say that would keep an audience interested for forty minutes or so.

When I was appointed as Chair of the Parole Board in 2016, Michael Gove, the then Justice Secretary, asked me why I wanted to be involved what he described as a ‘second division’ organisation.

I should have told him that I am a Queens Park Rangers season ticket holder so have a taste for it – but that’s by the way.

In truth the Parole Board had a reputation as a poorly performing legal backwater, a long way down the legal pecking order and some of its work is pretty tedious.

But it has certainly shot up the agenda recently – not altogether in a good way – and it certainly has not been boring.

In early January this year, the Parole Board announced a decision to release the serial sex offender John Worboys, now known as John Radford.

The outcry that followed the decision; the subsequent judicial review in the High Court and judgement that overturned both the decision and the rule that prevented the Board from providing any explanation of, or information about, its decisions; (1) the view by the Justice Secretary that my position was then, quote, ‘untenable’; (2) and the publication this week of the Justice Secretary’s Review (3) of the parole system have raised profound questions about the future of the parole system in England and Wales.

I should say at this stage that I had no role in the decision on the Worboys case. The panel that made the decision was a court in its own right and I had no power to intervene in its decision in any way.

Nevertheless, I have always been clear that I accept overall responsibility and accountability for the work of the Board. Personally, I have no complaints about what happened to me – but it is disappointing that others have so far not been willing to accept their own responsibility for what happened and I do think it raises issues about the independence of the Parole Board.

I want to repeat my acknowledgement of the achievement of the victims in this case. They behaved with courage, determination and grace. Their achievement goes far beyond their own case to the parole system and indeed the wider justice system as a whole.

The case and subsequent fall-out raised some big issues about the parole system that I want to address this evening.

First, I want to say a little about the history of the Parole Board and its role today.

The Parole Board in its modern form was created by the Criminal Justice Act 1967, (4) part of a swathe of reform that included the practical abolition of capital punishment. Initially it was a small committee of 17 members that gave private advice to the Home Secretary (then the responsible Minister) on the release of just 100 cases in its first year. (5)

In response to successive judicial reviews enforcing the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Board had developed to become, when sitting as a panel, in effect a court which orders the release of prisoners. (6) A decision of a panel is final subject only to judicial review.

The Board decides whether to release indeterminate prisoners, which includes life sentence prisoners and those given indeterminate sentences for public protection, decides whether to release some categories of determinate prisoners who have committed serious offences, decides whether some prisoners who have been recalled to prison can be re-released but advises whether indeterminate prisoners can be sent to open conditions. It may also advise on other matters referred to it by the Secretary of State. (7)

The Parole Board Rules are statutory instruments made by the Justice Secretary with the approval Parliament. Amongst other things, the Rules require that hearings must avoid formality. Rule 25 currently states:

‘Information about proceedings under these Rules and the names of persons concerned in the proceedings must not be made public. (8)

In 2016/17 the Board dealt with 7,377 oral hearings and 16,866 cases on the papers. (9)

It has 246 members including judges, psychologists, psychiatrists, probation offices, criminologists and other with relevant experience. All its members are public appointments made by the Justice Secretary. (10)

The cases of indeterminate sentence prisoners are referred to the Board by the Secretary of State once the prisoner has served the tariff, or minimum period that the sentencing judge has said must be served as punishment, and if they are refused parole, cases must be referred back to the Board every two years.

The Board’s primary duty is to protect the public and the test it applies before it can release a prisoner is that ‘it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner should remain detained.’ (11)

The results of the Review of parole processes announced last Saturday herald four changes to the way the Board operates.

  1. Consultation on the details of a mechanism to allow the Board’s decision to be reconsidered by designated judicial members of the Board. In some cases, a new hearing would be open to the public. The consultation will consider by whom and on what grounds a challenge can be initiated.
  2. The abolition of Rule 25 and the right for any person to request a summary of the Board’s decision subject to a public interest test.
  3. Extending and improving arrangements for contact with and the involvement of victims.
  4. The announcement of a more fundamental review of all the Rules that determine how the Board operates. (12)

These changes reflect to a large extent what I and the Board have been calling for – mostly before the Worboys decision caused controversy. In so far as they go, they are generally welcome.

My concern is not about what the Review says – but what it doesn’t say.

The more fundamental review of the Parole Board rules that has now been announced perhaps provides an opportunity to address these wider issues and I will discuss some of them now.

The overall performance of the Parole Board

First, I want to say a little about the performance of the Board today.

David Gauke, the sixth Justice Secretary since 2010 (therein lies a problem you might think), said in the Sun on Sunday a couple of weeks ago that the Worboys decision ‘shone a light’ on what is wrong with the parole system. (13)

I would be angry if the recent performance of the Board was rubbished as a political response to deflect criticism from others. To do so would be grossly unfair to the members and staff of the Board

The recent record of the Parole Board stands up well to scrutiny. (14)

Over the last two years the parole Board has been emerging from a very difficult period.

It has eliminated the backlog caused by the requirement in the Osborn, Booth and Reilly judgement to hold more oral hearings. Cases in the system are now down to frictional levels.

It has recruited, trained and inducted 100 new members.

It has moved from entirely paper based to entirely digital systems.

It has almost completed the roll out of digital recording of all hearings.

It has begun the process of overhauling the assessment, guidance and training it provides to members.

It has recommended a move to open or agreed release of 65% of prisoners at oral hearings.

It has reduced the number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences for public protection by half.

And we have done all that while keeping the rate at which those who we release or move to open conditions commit a further serious offence to less than 1%.

There is more to do of course but I think that record compares well with other parts of the criminal justice system.

The role of the Board

This then was the background against which the Worboys events unfolded.

Worboys, a black cab driver, was convicted of 19 serious sexual offences against 12 women in 2009. (15) Even by the time of his trial the case was deeply controversial.

The police were later severely criticised for their investigation by the then Independent Police Complaints Commission.16 Those police failures meant that it is alleged that his offending began much earlier than the offences for which he was convicted and there were many more victims – up to 100 – than those who Worboys was convicted of offences against. (17)

He was given an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 8 years – equivalent to a 16-year determinate sentence. He has served his entire sentence in a Category A high security prison. (18)

He was turned down for parole at his first hearing when his tariff expired and a three-member hearing conducted his second hearing in November 2017. (19)

The panel decided to release him and this decision was relayed to him and to the probation service to pass to his victims in early January 2018. (20)

The decision was greeted with shock and a good deal of anger and its worth remembering some of the criticisms that were made of the case at that time.

The first and perhaps most commonly held view, even now, is that the sentence Worboys served was simply an inadequate punishment for the offences he committed.

I take you back to the role of the Parole Board I described earlier. It is simply to assess whether the prisoner is now safe to release.

Not whether he or she was guilty of other offences for which was not convicted.

It was the job of the police to investigate those other offences and the CPS to decide which should come to trial.

The criticism that the failure of those agencies in this case was indicative of a wider failure to take violence and sexual offences against women sufficiently seriously has a lot of force in my view – but the Parole Board could not compensate for those failings.

Nor was it the panel’s job to decide whether Worboys had been punished enough for the offences for which he had been convicted. That was the job of the judge at his trial and the punishment was set in the tariff he had to serve before he could be considered for parole.

All parole decisions are fraught with difficulty. They are making a judgement about future risk; not a finding of fact about past events.

It was elegantly put In Hirst v The Parole Board and Home Secretary (2002) as quoted in Hamish Arnott’s and Simon Creighton’s excellent book21 on parole hearings:

‘…assessing a risk is not the same as reaching a conclusion about a factual event. A risk, as Lord Diplock observed, is a noumenon. If I may have to amplify [it goes on] a noumenon is the opposite of a phenomenon. It is an intellectual intuition, not something which may be observed.’ (22)

The transparency of the system and contact with victims

The actual process of announcing the decision and the lack of communication there had been with victims was initially also a source of considerable controversy.

Some victims complained they had not had an opportunity to deliver a Victim Impact Statement to the parole hearing. Some victims complained they were taken by surprise when they heard the news of the decision from the media and very powerfully described their distress and surprise of learning of the decision.

Once the decision was public, there were demands that the Parole Board explain its decision – and incredulity when we said we were prohibited from doing so.

The Parole Board has no role in liaising with victims. That is done on behalf of the Secretary of State by the Victim Contact Service, part of the National Probation Service. However, registered victims may submit a victim impact statement or attend the hearing to deliver it in person.

I urged the Justice Secretary to set up an independent investigation into victim contact in the Worboys case and he asked Dame Glenys Stacey, the Chef inspector of Probation to carry this out. (23)

No criticism, none, was made in her report of the way the Parole Board fulfilled its responsibilities in this case.

Dame Glenys report states explicitly, and I quote: ‘The Parole Board panel was told wrongly that all victims had been contacted.’ (24)

Nevertheless, it is clear the system needs modernising and that in this case it did not meet the needs of those affected. Some of Worboys alleged victims were not recognised as official victims under the scheme, and different victims received information at different times.

The review of the parole system will result in a number of changes that widen the range of those who come within the remit of the victim contact scheme and should improve processes. These are to be welcomed.

Nevertheless, we should not pretend that this will resolve many victims’ understandable distress and anger that someone who has done them great harm is to be released.

It is important we do not raise false expectations and that the Board receives support for the decisions it makes despite the emotion that swirls around much of its work.

I have been clear that you cannot resolve these tensions or avoid the controversy that surrounds these cases by hiding away. In the end I think they have to be tackled head on by making the parole system much more transparent. (25)

There are some obvious and uncontroversial areas where improvements can be made. The general information about how the parole system works and how prisoners, victims and witnesses can engage with it is poor.

More contentious is what should be made publicly available about our individual hearings and the reasons for parole decisions.

The Justice Secretary has made much of the decision in the Review that Rule 25 will be replaced and the Parole Board will now be able to provide a summary of its decision.

There is joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents.

The legality of Rule 25 was the subject of the judicial review challenge by the Sun and Mail newspapers – rather deliciously in view of who was bringing the challenge – on the grounds that it breached Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The Parole Board did not contest this challenge.

The Secretary of State, in the words of the JR judgement, made a ‘robust defence’ of the rule. (26)

I am pleased the Secretary of State lost and that Rule 25 was declared ultra vires by the High Court.

But the court left open to the Justice Secretary what would replace it.

Open justice must be right in principle, mustn’t it?

In a democratic society, surely, justice needs to be seen to be done.

Equally, most democratic societies accept that there are justifiable and necessary limits to the principle of open justice.

So, in the case of the Parole Board, the question should be, not why any part of it should be opened up, but why any part of it should be closed.

Well, there are some very powerful constraints.

First of all, there are a set of issues about rights to privacy. Many parole hearings will hear substantial evidence about the prisoner’s mental health and will often deal with personal information about victims and other parties too.

There are particular issues about the privacy of the victims here – many victims have said to me that they dread the lurid details of the offence against them becoming part of media circus again.

Next, parole hearings are designed to encourage candour. A sex offender needs to talk honestly about their offence and their sexual feelings. That process can’t happen if a prisoner thinks there is a risk that what he says will become a media headline or start trending on twitter.

We need psychiatrists, psychologists and others to give us their honest, independent opinion. We should be very careful to ensure that they are not inhibited from doing so.

Then there is the question of the rehabilitation of the prisoner to consider. Once a prisoner has served their punishment and is safe to release, he or she should be supported in their rehabilitation in the community.

That in itself surely requires a degree of privacy and would be part of a prisoner’s Article 8 rights.

We should be realistic too that some victims are themselves offenders, sometime seriously so. Some information will properly need to be withheld from them.

Last but not least, there are practical constraints on how open the parole system can be when most hearing take place inside prisons. Changes of this nature must be properly resourced if new backlogs are not to emerge and the progress of the last couple of years reversed.

So how can these conflicting demands be reconciled? I think the presumption should be for openness.

I am concerned that the Review proposals do not go far enough. Providing a brief summary of decisions risks satisfying no one and simply leading to more questions. And if decisions are only published on request that is likely to focus on the most notorious and controversial of the Board’s cases and create a distorted picture of the Board’s work.

I would prefer the existing decision letters to be adapted so that all of them are published as a matter of course, at least those arise from an oral hearing, and that should happen whatever the decision. A public interest test could still be applied and some information could be redacted.

The principle should be that as much as possible should be placed in the public domain, not as little as can be got away with.

If this is done successfully and there are no unforeseen consequences, I would like to see panel chairs having the discretion to admit victims, the media and others to all or part of a hearing

In principle the names of panel members in individual decisions should also be public. I do not believe the current secrecy about the names of the decision makers is tenable in the long run. There are mixed opinions about this in the Board and in view of what happened to me I can understand that. So, I think making names public is contingent on giving Board members the same guarantees of independence and security of tenure as a judge or magistrate.

The right to review decisions

Soon after the Parole Board’s decision was announced, the then new Justice Secretary, David Gauke announced he would judicially review it. (27)

That was criticised in some quarters but I welcomed it. I said this on 16 January this year:

“I would welcome a decision by the Lord Chancellor to judicially review the Parole Board in the Worboys case and we will not stand in the way of such a review taking place.” (28)

I wanted reassurance about the decision as much as the next person and wanted to make sure a dangerous person was not released.

In the event the Justice Secretary withdrew his challenge. (29) Two of the victims then crowd-funded a new challenge (30) and they were joined by the Mayor of London and, on the Rule 25 issue, by the two newspapers.

The decision of the Justice Secretary to withdraw his challenge was extraordinary. The only parties to the case are the prisoner and the Secretary of State. The victims have no legal standing other than a right to comment on licence conditions.

The eventual high court judgement said this:

Quote: “The Secretary of State as a party to the proceedings was a natural claimant”. (31)

The court ruled that the Mayor did not have standing and noted that the standing of the two victims had not been challenged. Had it been so, the court said this:

“Given the Secretary of State’s early indication that he would not be seeking to challenge the Parole Board’s decision, there is considerable force in the convention that had the standing of DSB and NBV been placed in issue that would have disabled this Court from performing its function (if it considered it necessary to protect the rule of law”. (32)

I instructed that our counsel was not to challenge the standing of any challenger. Had I not done so the Secretary of State’s retreat would have meant there would have been no eligible challenge and Worboys would have been released.

It is ridiculous that victims could not as of right challenge a Parole Board decision and in principle have to rely on the courage of a politician for a challenge to take place. Even if such a challenge can take place, it was ridiculous that it relied on crowd-funding to do so.

So, I welcome the decision that there will now be a simple system that allows parole decisions to be challenged. I agree that such a system should be conducted by designated judicial members of the Board. There would have to be a high merits test similar to that used for JRs otherwise we would simply end up taking most decisions twice and of course it would not exclude access to JRs once the internal mechanism has been exhausted. The process will need to be speedy so that prisoners who were safe to be released are not kept in prison longer than necessary and arrangement on which release may depend, such as the availability of an approved premises place, remain available.

The system will also need to be properly resourced. A backlog of reconsideration decisions would create chaos.

The conduct of hearings

Let me now consider the findings of the JR about the decision itself. These are matters that I hope the next stage of the MOJ review will address.

The challenge to the release decision was on two grounds.

First, that even on the material the Panel had before it, the release decision was irrational. And second that the panel was irrational not to consider the large number of offences that Worboys was alleged to have committed but for which he has not been tried. (33)

On the first ground, the court was critical of the panel’s questioning.

Reasonably enough, that was on the basis of the panel’s contemporaneous notes of the hearing.34 The panel had a very experienced Chair and I would be very surprised if her questioning was not skilled and to the point. However, Rule 23 (2) (a) of the Parole Board Rules states that the panels quote ‘must avoid formality during the hearing’ (35) and they are inquisitorial rather than adversarial in nature. I also suspect that the panel’s notes did not fully reflect the tone and depth of their questioning.

We do not know exactly what happened in the hearing room. That will not be an issue in future as all hearings will soon be recorded. (36) I regret that did not start a few months earlier.

There is a danger that informality gone too far. Some hearing feel like just another sentence planning meeting. I think there is a strong case for a more adversarial approach at least in some cases, with both the prisoner and the Secretary of State represented at an appropriate level and more of the formal procedure that would underline the authority of the panel and ensure fairness.

Forensic psychology evidence

There was also a suspicion that Worboys had hoodwinked the psychologists involved.

There were five psychologists in the rooms. One was a panel member. Three who had met and assessed Worboys all came independently to the decision he was safe to be released. (37)

These three psychologists were or had been in the past instructed by Worboys but they owed their duty to give their objective opinion to the tribunal. (38)

One of these three was the prison psychologist and she was managed by the final psychologist who, although she had not assessed Worboys, opposed his release although she too agreed he was low risk.

The three psychologists who assessed Worboys as safe for release were experienced professionals. They may all have been mistaken but I think it was reasonable for the panel to give their opinion weight – and more than the senior psychologist who had not assessed Worboys.

Release was opposed by the offender managers and offender supervisor who gave evidence although all of these were now agreed Worboys was low risk. They felt than nonetheless that these residual risks could best be managed by Worboys’ normal progression through the system.

In a letter to the professional journal The Psychologist, two of the psychologists in the known as P1 and P12 expressed concern about the lack of informed debate and wrote this:

“The case raises particularly pertinent issues for discussion, in which psychologists should be taking a leading role. Although we are all hampered by the limited access to the full documentation, it should surely raise questions in our mind when four psychologists all apparently arrive at similar conclusions regarding the risk assessment; are they truly all naive and duped, or are there some features to the case that lend weight to their opinions? What we do know from information in the public domain is that the very issues that so concern the public – Mr Radford’s denial of the offences for many years, his apparent failure to confess to all his crimes, suspicions about his level of remorse and victim empathy – are the very issues for which there is robust evidence regarding their lack of association to risk….” (39)

It goes on:

We now know that these post-hoc offence rationalisations are driven by shame, a functional response to wrong-doing, often held by those individuals with stronger social bonds.” (40)

I am not a forensic psychologist but I too am concerned about the lack of informed discussion of this issue. How much weight should be given to the evidence these psychologists cite? What are the alternative professional views? I am uneasy that sometimes panels place too much reliance on psychology reports and downplay the views of prison and probation staff who have worked with the prisoner.

Denial and offence minimisation may not go directly to risk. It is also true that behaviour in prison – good or bad – is not a good indicator of behaviour after release but perhaps the distress that denial may cause victims or incentives to behave well in prison should be factored into release decisions regardless of whether they go directly to risk.

I don’t know what I would have decided if I were in the room. In the event the court did not find the decision was irrational on these grounds as follows:

“Ultimately, we are not persuaded that this panel reached an irrational decision. It is not sufficient for the Claimants’ purposes to have persuaded us, as they have done, that this decision is surprising and concerning.” (41)

It went on:

“A risk assessment in a complex case such as this is multi-factorial, multi-dimensional and at the end of the day quintessentially a matter of judgment for the panel itself.

This panel’s reasons were detailed and comprehensive. We are not operating in an appellate jurisdiction and the decision is not ours to make. We are compelled to conclude that the decision of the panel must be respected.” (42)


The judicial review challenge was successful on the second ground – that the panel should have at least considered hearsay evidence about the other offences which Worboys was alleged to have committed but for which he was not tried and which he denies.

Some commentators have suggested it was obvious the panel should have done so.

It was not obvious to me. The issue raises some fundamental issues of fairness.

Leave aside the case of Worboys for the moment – suppose the prisoner was indeed innocent of these other allegations, how would his rights to a fair trial be safeguarded? Would the prisoner have to be cautioned? Would the offences need to be particularized? Witnesses called so Worboys could challenge them? What would be the disclosure obligations – and on whom?

The Secretary of State was responsible for putting together the dossier the panel considered.

Although other offences were alluded to at several points, there was no specific detail. In particular the dossier did not contain information about the dates of Worboys alleged offending, the so-called rape kit he used or the fact that some of the victims had won damages from the Metropolitan Police a few months earlier when Green J had accepted on the balance of probabilities in an uncontested action in which Worboys took no part, that Worboys had committed 100 other offences. (43)

None of this information was in the dossier and neither did the Secretary of State’s representative at the hearing suggest this was something the panel should have pursued. (44)

Even had the panel agreed it had these powers to consider these issues it did not know what it did not know. It couldn’t google the case. Had it pursued the references to other cases it would have found out more but it did not do so.

In respect to this issue, the court far from saying it was a simple matter, concluded it was a, quote . “a difficult, troubling case with many exceptional features”. (45)
But nonetheless:

“Drawing these strands together, whereas we agree with Mr Collins [the Board’s counsel] that it is not the role of the Parole Board to determine whether a prisoner had committed other offences, we cannot accept the extension of that submission, shared by Mr Fitzgerald albeit advanced in slightly different terms, that it is precluded from considering evidence of wider offending when determining the issue of risk.” (46)

It is not obvious to me what the value would be in considering other offences if the panel was not to determine whether Worboys had committed them. The judgement certainly surprised the judicial members who were advising me. It is a narrow point but, on this basis, the judicial review challenge was upheld.

I know the Parole Board is taking more advice to clarify how far the Board should go in considering untested allegations.

It seems likely that the Board will have to go further than it does at present I understand that almost 50% of cases are now being deferred as panels seek more and more information in case it is relevant.

The production of the dossier should now be removed from the Secretary of State, one of the parties to the case, and responsibility for this given to the Parole Board itself and the Parole Board needs greater resources and powers to be able to require the production of reports and other evidence and to summon witnesses.

The Board will now have to have a new hearing to consider Worboys application for parole again.

We should note that at the end of their judgement the court stated:

“We must emphasise that we have not held, nor must we be understood as suggesting, that Mr Radford’s present risk is such that his continued imprisonment is necessary for the protection of the public or that the Parole Board should so find.” (47)

The Worboys saga is not over yet.

Composition of the Board

It was suggested at that time the decision was announced that the Parole Board probably had an all-male panel making the decision and that explained it. (48) I don’t think it gives away any confidential information to say that apart from Worboys himself the majority of those in the hearing room, panel and witnesses, were woman.

The Board has almost a 50:50 gender split but only a very small proportion of its members are from a black or minority ethnic group.(49) (50)

As the recent Lammy Review pointed out, the lack of diversity amongst those making important decision in the criminal justice system is a major contributor to the ‘us and them’ culture that erodes trust. (51) The Board has begun work to prepare for a targeted recruitment campaign to address this.

The Board’s judicial members pay a crucial role but those who I have spoken to tell me it is unlikely a judicial member would have made a different decision in this case.

Nevertheless, there is a clear suggestion in in the MOJ review that changes to the Rules might specify when a judge should chair a panel. The Board does need more judicial expertise and before I left the Board we had begun the process of planning a recruitment exercise for more judicial members.

That campaign was launched earlier this week.52 I have to say that there is not an abundance of current or retired judges who are available and willing to join us. In any case, the need for judicial expertise needs to be have balanced against the priority to ensure that a lack of diversity amongst Board members does not damage trust as Lammy suggests. Just recruiting more retired judges will not help the Board become more diverse.

Accountability for what went wrong

We received the judgement a couple of days in advance and the day before it was published the Justice Secretary required me to resign.

I don’t believe any errors by the Parole Board in this difficult and troubling case with many exceptional features were significantly greater than those of the MoJ itself.

The controversy around the Windrush scandal has raised interesting questions about what the threshold is for requiring someone to resign.

But don’t go into the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat is my view.

Let’s be clear – these are political questions and the decision to require me to resign was a political question that goes to the heart of the Parole Board’s independence.

This was direct attack on the independence of the Parole Board and the Parole Board is part of the judicial system. Article 5(4) of the Convention requires imprisonment to be decided by a court which must be independent of the executive.

I had no role in the decision but if I can be forced out because of it, I imagine my successor would want to have more control over the decisions that are made – or at least Parole Board members would not want to jeopardise the Chair’s position.

And the Chair of the Parole Board is appointed by and reports directly to Ministers. My appraisals were carried out be a senior Ministry of Justice civil servant.

Parole Board members should make their decisions in accordance with their understanding of the law, their expertise and the evidence before them. They will sometimes make mistakes and we should give the training and support they need to do the job as well as possible.

But they should absolutely not make their decisions on the basis of what will be popular or not, and absolutely not to keep the Justice Secretary happy or the Chair in a job.

The independence of the Board

So, in my view, the MOJ review of the Parole Board has ducked the fundamental question.

These events demonstrate the current status and structure of the Parole Board is not fit for purpose.

It should be an independent tribunal, in the courts and tribunal service, completely removed from the influence of the Ministry of Justice. Its members should have the status and protections of other judicial office holders to protect them from political interference. Then members responsible for decision should be named.

It should have the powers and resources to carry out the additional responsibilities that appear to flow from the Worboys judgement.

It should control the production of the case dossier and have powers to enforce the attendance of witnesses and the submission of evidence.

Hearings need to be more formal and adversarial.

Members need greater training and support

The process should be radically opened up. First by publishing detailed summaries of all its decisions, then by opening up hearings to the public.

Victims and prisoners should have a right to challenge Parole Board decisions.

In short, I think transformational change of the parole system is required.

1 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party)

2 The Parole Board (2018). Letter of resignation from Nick Hardwick to the Secretary of State for Justice. [Online] Available from:

3 Ministry of Justice (2018). Review of the law, policy and procedure relating to Parole Board. [Online] Available from:

4 Criminal Justice Act 1967 s. 59

5 See for example, Guiney.T (to be published 2018). An Idea Whose Time had Come? The Creation of a Modern System of Parole in England and Wales 1960 – 1968. The Prison Service Journal, 237

6 See for example: (Article 5(4) ECHR), (CJA 1991), (CJA 2003), (LAPSO 2012), R (Brooke) v Parole Board [2007] EWHC 2036 (Admin)

7 The Parole Board for England and Wales. (2017) Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17. [Online] pp.42-43. Available from: al_Review_Web_Accessible_Version.pdf

8 (S.I. 2016 No 1041) (“Rule 25”)

9 The Parole Board for England and Wales. (2017) Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17.Ibid. p.35

10 The Parole Board (2018) Our members [Online] Available from:

11 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 Part 1. S.6(2)

12 Ministry of Justice (2018). Review of the law, policy and procedure relating to Parole Board. Ibid

13 Wooding.D (2018) ‘ ‘I’M TO BLAME’ Justice Secretary David Gauke admits he was to blame for the John Worboys parole shambles which almost saw the rapist walked free’. The Sun. 8 April. [Online] Available from:

14 See for example: The Parole Board for England and Wales. (2017) Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17 ibid; House of Commons Justice Committee (2017) ‘HC755 Work of the Parole Board’ Oral Evidence 18 October 2017. [Online] Available from:

15 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) para. 4

16 Glass,D. (2018) Commissioner’s report: IPCC independent investigation into the Metropolitan Police Service’s inquiry into allegations against John Worboys. Independent Police Complaints Commission [Online] Available from:

17 DSD v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 436 (QB)

18 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) paras. 4,19

19 Ibid paras. 22,42

20 Ibid para.47

21 Arnott,H. & Creighton,S. (2014) Parole Board Hearings: law and practice. 3rd ed. London, LAG Education and Service Trust Limited. p.73

22 R (Hirst) v Parole Board and Home Secretary [2002]EWHC 1592 (Admin) para 83.

23 Stacey, G. (2018) Investigation into the policy and process followed by the victim contact scheme in the case of John Worboys. Ministry of Justice. [Online] Available from:

24 Ibid. p.13

25 See for example: Hardwick, N. (2017) Parole – 50 years and counting. 6 November, The Butler Trust, The Royal Institute of British Architects, London [Online] Available from:


26 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) para.100

27 See for example; BBC (2018) Worboys case: Government ‘doing all it can’ to keep rapist in jail [Online] Available from:

28 Hardwick, N. Professor Nick Hardwick responds to concerns about Worboys’ case [online] Available from:

29 Gauke, D. Secretary of State’s oral statement on Transparency of the Parole Board and Victim Support [Online] Available from:

30 Centre for Women’s Justice (2018) Why was John Worboys granted parole? His victims need answers. [Online] Available from:

31 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) para.110

32 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) para.114

33 Ibid para 78

34 Ibid paras 43 (v), 44

35 (S.I. 2016 No 1041) (“Rule 23(2)(a)”)

36 Comptroller and Auditor General (2017) Investigation into the Parole Board. National Audit Office. HC 1013 Session 2016-17

28 February 2017 [Online] Available from: para.3.16

37 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) paras. 42,43

38 See for example: The British Psychological Society (2015) Psychologists as expert witnesses: Guidelines and Procedure [Online] para.2.25. Available from:

39 P12 and P1 (2018) Psychological expert evidence and the Parole Board. The psychologist [Online] May 2018 Vol.31 (pp2) Available from:

40 Ibid

41 (R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) para 130.

42 Ibid para 133

43 DSD v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 436 (QB)

44 R (DSD & NBV; the Mayor of London; and News Groups Newspapers Ltd) v The Parole Board of England and Wales; the Secretary of State for Justice; and John Radford (formerly John Worboys) (Interested Party) paras 44, 49. 62.

45 Ibid para.158

46 Ibid para.155

47 Ibid. para.202

48 See for example: Wilson, D. (2018) #Warboys (cont) was the 3 person PB panel all Male; why won’t the PB explain their release decision [Online] Twitter. 4 January. Available from:

49 The Parole Board for England and Wales. (2017) Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17 Ibid p.66

50 The Law Society Gazette (2018). Parole Board must become a fully-fledged court, ex-chief declares. [Online] Available from:

51 Lammy,D. (2017) The Lammy Review: An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System. Lammy Review. p.37

52 The Parole Board. (2018) Recruitment Campaigns open for Psychiatrist and retired Judicial Parole Board members. [Online] Available from: