What are Licence Conditions?
Licence conditions are requirements that can be placed on an offender following their release from prison. They only apply to offender’s that have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more. If you have received a custodial sentence below 12 months you will be subject to Post Sentence Supervision. Conditions of post-sentence supervision will usually be at the discretion of the supervising officer.
What Types of Licence Conditions exist?
Everyone release from prison on licence will be subject to Standard Licence conditions. These conditions include a variety of requirements including but not limited to the following:
• To be of good behaviour
• Not to commit any offence
• To keep in touch with your offender manager
• To reside at an address approved by you offender manager
There are circumstances in which it may be deemed necessary for additional licence conditions to be imposed to manage an offender’s risk and to ensure public protection. These conditions can be suggested by the Probation Service or can be recommended upon consideration of the wishes of the victims. If they do not a bespoke condition can be requested. A bespoke condition will require the supervising officer to make a formal application to Secretary of State. Additional licence conditions can cover issues such as the following:
• A restriction on residence
• Restricting contact with a particular person
• Participation / co-operation with a programme or set of activities
• Limitation on the possession, ownership or control of specified items
• Disclosure of information
• Exclusion zones
Who approves additional Licence conditions?
Additional licence conditions can only be added to a licence if they are lawful. The decision regarding the imposition of licence conditions will depend on the nature of the sentence you are serving.
• Automatic release at a conditional release date: Licence conditions will be set by the Governor on behalf of the Secretary of State.
• Where release is at the discretion of the Parole Board; Licence conditions will be set by the Parole Board
What is the purpose of licence conditions?
Licence conditions are implemented to assist in the protection of the public, to prevent further offending and to assist in the successful reintegration of the offender into the community. Conditions can be imposed to prevent contact with a victim or to prevent the entrance into a certain geographical area where a victim might be. This can assist in the reducing the level of harm posed to individuals. With regards to further offending, those subject to release can engage in offending behaviour programmes aimed at reducing risk and to reduce the prospect of further offending. This is particularly relevant to those who were unable to complete such work in custody.
Finally, with regards to assisting in the successful reintegration into the community those subject to release are monitored by the Probation Service and offered support and assistance with regards to their future.
Can I challenge Licence conditions?
To be lawful a licence condition must be both necessary and proportionate. Necessary means
that no other means of managing a particular risk is available or appropriate and
proportionate means that the restriction on the offender’s liberty is the minimum required to
manage the risk.
You may feel that a condition is either not necessary or proportionate to manage your risk, in those circumstances you can challenge such a condition. Sometimes the conditions which are proposed by the Probation Service are excessive, without consideration of the test for necessity and proportionality. Prior to conditions being imposed you can make representations to either the Governor or the Parole Board regarding the conditions.
Should you already be in the community, you could first seek to speak to your Offender Manager about the conditions in the hope that a resolution can be reached and the conditions amended. You may find that after a period of good behaviour, your supervising officer is satisfied that certain conditions can be relaxed.
How long will I be on licence for?
This entirely depends on the sentence you are serving. The length of your licence will depend on:
When you were sentenced
The length of your sentence
The nature of your sentence
Your licence will clearly state the date that your licence ends.
What happens if I breach a licence condition?
You could face Recall back to prison. Your Supervising Officer will decide whether the breach can be dealt with by way of warning or whether it is necessary for you to be recalled back to prison. If it is the latter, your Supervising Officer will decide whether your recall should be a fixed term (28 days) or standard recall before contacting the Secretary State who will formally revoke your licence. You will then be taken to a local prison which will not necessarily be the prison you were released from.
If you find yourself in this position you should obtain legal advice immediately as representations can be submitted on your behalf arguing for rerelease. It can also be argued that your case be directed to an Oral Hearing to challenge the recall by discussing the issues and seeing whether your risk can be managed in the community if the Board direct re-release.
How do I get a copy of my licence?
You will be given a copy of your licence upon your release. The document should be read and explained to you. Please note that the licence document will remain lawful regardless of whether or not you choose to sign it. It is very important that you understand the conditions as a breach can lead to severe consequences.
Should you be approaching release and have concern over the conditions which will be put in place, you should seek expert advice from a Prison Lawyer who can assist in making representations regarding your licence and its conditions. Should you be returned to custody following an alleged breach of your licence advice should be sought immediately.
Should you require any assistance with a Prison Law issue please contact our Prison Law department at Hine Solicitors on 01865 518971 or FREEPOST – RTHU – LEKE – HAZR Hine Solicitors, Seymour House, 285 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7JF for our Oxford office or FREEPOST – TRXS-TYCU-ZKHY Hine Solicitors, Crown House, 123 Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8LD for our Birmingham Office.