Pre Tariff Parole Reviews


Indeterminate sentenced prisoners – whether lifer or IPP – will only be released by the Parole Board when the Board is satisfied that their risk can be managed in the community.

Indeterminate sentenced prisoners will not be guaranteed regular parole reviews until the expiration of their tariff however those demonstrating an extremely motivated attitude may have the opportunity to undergo a Pre Tariff Parole Review.

Background to the Process

All pre tariff indeterminate sentenced prisoners with a tariff of over 3 years, previously had their cases referred to the Parole Board for a Pre Tariff Review. However, as a result of the growing number of indeterminate sentenced prisoners (thanks partly to the introduction of IPP sentences), PSI 33/2009 was introduced. This PSI seeks to manage the resources of the Ministry of Justice and the Parole Board effectively and ensures that only indeterminate sentence prisoners who have a substantial prospect of achieving a positive recommendation from the Parole Board now proceed to a Pre Tariff Review.

What is the difference between a Pre Tariff Sift and a Pre Tariff review?

You may have heard these terms being used interchangeably, however they are two separate processes. The Pre Tariff Sift is the process undertaken by the prison to decide whether to recommend an inmate for a Pre Tariff Review. The Pre Tariff Review is the Parole Review itself.

The Pre Tariff Sift takes place within the prison at a Sentence Planning and Review Meeting (SPRM). A Pre Tariff Sift will determine inmate’s suitability for the Pre Tariff Review based upon the likelihood of a Parole Board recommending an inmate’s move to open conditions.

Inmates must be notified that a Pre Tariff Sift will be considered at the SPRM so that they can submit representations. Inmates are advised to contact a Prison Law Solicitor upon receiving notification that they will be subject to a Pre Tariff Sift to assist in the preparation of written representations.

Am I eligible for a Pre Tariff Review?

All prisoners serving a tariff of over 3 years should have their case considered at a Pre Tariff Sift. However, inmates who are:-

– Category A status;
– Assessed within the OASYs assessment as high/very high risk of harm;
– Recorded as escaping or attempting to escape in the last 2 years;
– Recorded as previously absconding or attempting to abscond from Escorted Absence or open conditions in the last 2 years;
– Recorded as having a proven adjudication for serious violence within the last 12 months.
will be presumed not to have met the criteria for a Pre Tariff Sift, unless there are exceptional circumstances that exist.

How do I apply for a Pre Tariff Review?

It is the responsibility of the Case Administrator at the prison to identify inmates who require a Pre Tariff Sift. The Case Administrator must then alert report writers that a Pre Tariff Sift is to take place at least 4 months before the commencement of the Parole Process. This is detailed in PSO 6010.

Those with responsibility for supervising an inmate will consider whether the inmate is suitable for a Pre Tariff Review and prepare reports to be considered at the Pre Tariff Sift. At this stage the prisoner must also be informed that the SPRM is going to take place and will consider submitting his case for a Pre Tariff Review. The prisoner will be invited to submit representations which they can prepare themselves or with the assistance of their legal representative.

It is therefore important for inmates to ascertain whether they will be subject to Pre Tariff Review and when this will take place so they can determine when their Pre Tariff Sift will be considered by the prison and ensure that their representations are considered.

The Pre Tariff Sift should then take place at the SPRM at least 2 months prior to the commencement of the Parole Process. The Sift will conclude with the Governor determining whether to recommend that the inmate’s case should be submitted to the Parole Board for a Pre Tariff Review.

What are the possible outcomes of a Pre Tariff Sift?

Following a Pre Tariff Sift the Governor can either conclude that the inmate is automatically excluded from a Pre Tariff Review, decide to recommend that an exceptional Pre Tariff Review take place or recommend that despite negative aspects, the case warrants consideration by a Parole Board at a Pre Tariff Review.

If the governor makes a recommendation that the case be sent to the Parole Board then the Pre Tariff Sift will have concluded in the inmate’s favour and a Pre Tariff Parole Review will take place. A Parole dossier will be compiled and the inmate’s case will considered by the Parole Board.

Once a prisoner has been recommended for a Pre Tariff Review, a Solicitor will be able to submit representations to the Parole Board applying for the inmate to be considered as suitable for a move to open conditions.

What if the review takes place and the Parole Board do not recommend me for open conditions?

If following the Parole Review the Parole Board decide not to recommend an inmate for a transfer to open conditions, they will submit their written decision to the Secretary of State who will then set the timetable for the next parole review, which will usually be at the date of tariff expiration.

However, in exceptional circumstances an inmate may have a further Pre Tariff Review before tariff expiry. In such cases a Pre Tariff Sift will take place.

Examples of when a second Pre Tariff Review might be appropriate:

– The Parole Board made a recommendation for a further assessment which has now been carried out and the subsequent report recommends a progressive move;
– Further work has been completed which has lowered an inmate’s risk;
– Attendees of the previous Pre Tariff Sift who did not support a Pre Tariff Review are now recommending an inmate’s progression to open conditions;
– Any other factor that demonstrates an inmate’s reduction in risk.

A second Pre Tariff Parole Review will only take place when an inmate is recommended as ready for a progressive move to open conditions. There will need to be a strong reason for a second Pre Tariff Review, as opposed to simply waiting for the next Parole Board Review upon an inmate’s tariff expiry. It is advisable to seek legal assistance in these circumstances to see if there is merit in asking for a second Pre Tariff Review to be conducted based on the new recommendations of those supervising the inmate.


An appeal against a decision not to refer the case to Parole Board for Pre Tariff Review can be made via the internal prison complaints procedure. The Governor making this decision at the Pre Tariff Sift should have recorded detailed notes and the person considering the appeal should have regard to these and the contents of the complaint. The person considering the appeal, should not have been part of the SPRM considering the case at sift stage.

What can I do to improve my chances and can legal representation help?

The decision as to whether to grant a Pre Tariff Sift can only be made by those supervising an inmate. It is therefore important for an inmate to build a positive relationship with those supervising them, as the recommendations of these supervisors will be the key to unlocking the parole process.

An inmate who is at the very beginning of their sentence may be attempting to achieve progression in order that they might be considered suitable for a Pre Tariff Review in due course, but may be facing difficulties in doing so. For example, where a prisoner is awaiting allocation to courses or identification of sentence planning targets a Solicitor may be able to assist the inmate in achieving progress where they are encountering difficulties. The Prison Law legal aid contract covers sentence planning issues where there is impediment to a prisoner’s progress in completion of work which will reduce their risk. Such assistance may be of particular importance where a prisoner who is maintaining their innocence has not been allocated to any appropriate courses or programmes.

In terms of the Pre Tariff Sift process an inmate’s representations may well be influential and may help convince a Governor concluding the Pre Tariff Sift to recommend a case suitable for a Pre Tariff Parole Review, particularly when not all members of the Sentence Plan Review Meeting are agreed upon sending the case for a review.

Emma Davies at Hine Solicitors  FREEPOST – RSTC-URCY-XYZL,

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