Philip Davies – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Justice

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Philip Davies on 2014-03-31.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what offences were committed by prisoners serving their sentences in open prisons.

Jeremy Wright

Open prisons have been used since 1936, because they are the most effective means of ensuring that prisoners are suitably risk-assessed before they are released into the community under appropriate licence conditions. These prisons also provide effective supervision for prisoners who do not require the security conditions of the closed estate, because they have been assessed as having a low risk of harm to the public and a low risk of absconding by the independent Parole Board and/or NOMS.

Indeterminate sentence prisoners located in open conditions have been rigorously risk assessed and categorised as being of a low enough risk to the public to warrant their placement in an open prison. They will have previously spent time in prisons with higher levels of security, before being transferred to open conditions if recommended by the Parole Board – or directed through NOMS.

The main purpose of open conditions is to test prisoners in conditions more similar to those that they will face in the community. Time spent in open prisons affords prisoners the opportunity to find work, re-establish family ties, reintegrate into the community and ensure housing needs are met. For many prisoners, in particular those, such as ISPs who have spent a considerable amount of time in custody; these are essential components for successful reintegration in the community and therefore an important factor in protecting the public. To release these prisoners directly from a closed prison without the resettlement benefits of the open estate would undoubtedly lead to higher levels of post-release re-offending. The reoffending rates for those released from open prisons are low when compared to all prisoners released from custody in England & Wales.

The requested information is provided in the table below.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.