End of Custody Supervised Licence: Extension

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 12:37 pm ar 8 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 12:37, 8 Mai 2024

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her question.

Protecting the public is our No. 1 priority, so it is right that we take tough and decisive action to keep putting the most serious offenders behind bars, and for longer, as the public rightly expect. We are carrying out the biggest prison expansion programme since the Victorian era, and we are ramping up removals of foreign national offenders.

We have a duty to ensure that the prison system continues to operate safely and effectively, with offenders held in safe and decent conditions. This means ensuring that no prison exceeds a safe maximum operating limit. ECSL allows lower-level offenders to be released before their automatic release date. In March, the Lord Chancellor stated that we will

“work with the police, prisons and probation leaders to make further adjustments as required.”—[Official Report, 12 March 2024;
Vol. 747, c. 157.]

This extension is in line with what he said.

ECSL operates only when absolutely necessary and is kept under constant review. I know that many Members of this House will be concerned about the early release of offenders into the community, but I make it clear that only offenders who would soon be released anyway will be considered for ECSL.

We have put in place safeguards, including that the Prison Service retains the discretion to prevent the ECSL release of any offender where early release presents a higher risk than if they were released at their automatic release date. There are strict eligibility criteria, and anyone convicted of a sexual offence, a terrorist offence or a serious violence offence is ruled out. Public safety will always be our No. 1 priority, and all those released will still be subject to probation supervision and stringent licence conditions.