More Inmates To Leave Prison Early Following Changes To Early-Release Scheme

The number of inmates released from prison early is set to rise due to government plans to simplify an early-release scheme.

The ‘home detention curfew’ scheme was introduced by the Labour government in 1999 on the understanding that certain prisoners could be freed between two weeks and four-and-a-half months before their original release date.

According to the Ministry of Justice, currently just a fifth of those eligible for the scheme are being released early.

New plans should see an increased number of eligible prisoners serving the remainder of their sentence at home on the condition that they wear an electronic tag and abide by a curfew.

The move is designed to reduce the pressure placed on prisons and tackle the problem of overcrowding.

Although plans are in place to increase the numbers of people released early, the type of offenders eligible will not change.

The scheme applies to those sentenced to terms of between three months and four years but it excludes those who have previously breached a curfew.

The scheme also excludes those imprisoned for sex offences, crimes involving weapons, violent crimes and terrorism.

Figures released earlier this month showed that the total population of prisons and immigration removal centre’s stands at 84,255. Although attempts are being made to reduce this figure, it’s below an overall capacity of 86,771. Currently, 2,770 people are subject to home detention curfew.

The Ministry of Justice wants the curfews to become “a normal part of release” and a spokesperson added: “We are not expanding the scheme to allow the release of any prisoner who was not already eligible and could be released on HDC.

“We are simplifying the HDC process, reducing the number of forms used in the assessment process and maintaining the strict eligibility and suitability tests.”