Prison Reform Trust: Inside Out

Published: Feb 2015

Mark Day and Charles Spiropoulos

When conducting this research it had been less than a year since the interim measures were introduced and the new ROTL (Release on temporary licence) policy had yet to be announced, the changes already seemed to be having a significant impact on the numbers of ROTL release being authorised. The changes have had a particularly negative effect on the number of people serving indeterminate sentences being granted temporary release. These are precisely the group of prisoners who are most likely to benefit from the experience of ROTL and open conditions.

It is important that the use of ROTL is underpinned by thorough risk assessment and sentence planning; and he Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorate has made important recommendations for improvements in these areas. However, it will never be possible to entirely eliminate the small risk of failure from the system. This risk must be balances against the consequences of not providing people in prison with the benefits of measures intended to reduce their risk of reoffending on release. Responsible policymaking requires a proportionate assessment of risk and a careful evaluation of costs and benefits. When tragic incidents do occur, it is essential to learn lessons and address understandable concerns about safety and security. But it is also vital for policymakers to affirm the value of ROTL and open conditions for effective resettlement and rehabilitation.