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JUSTICE is an all-party law reform and human rights organisation working to strengthen the justice system. It is the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists. Our vision is of fair, accessible and efficient legal processes in which the individual’s rights are protected and which reflect the country’s international reputation for upholding and promoting the rule of law. 

In April 2021, JUSTICE set up a project to consider whether the Parole Board and system of England and Wales is fit-for-purpose and fair. A group of experts – including lawyers, Parole Board members and the former Chair, and those who have been through the process – were brought together to examine the role, powers, and procedures of the Parole Board and the broader parole system. The project aims to give specific focus to groups overrepresented throughout the criminal justice system and those who face challenges in participating. It will make practical recommendations aimed at ensuring that those involved who go through parole are not in prison for longer than is needed and lawful. It will take place alongside the Government’s own ‘Root and Branch Review’ of the parole system. A report of the experts’ findings will be published at the end of 2021 and will be available at If you would like a copy of the report, please contact JUSTICE through the details below. More information on the project can be found on our website here, including Working Party members and the project’s areas of focus. 

The Questionnaire
The JUSTICE Working Party would like to receive as many responses as possible from a range of people who have direct experience of the parole and recall processes, including, but not limited to, those still in prison and those under community supervision. This will help us consider potential areas for reform. We would appreciate you sharing your views on the below set of questions, which reflect some of the main challenges faced while going through parole. All responses are appreciated, regardless of length, so please feel free to respond to as many or as few as you see fit. You may also wish to respond with bullet points.

If you have any questions, please contact Siven Watt, Senior Legal Fellow, JUSTICE at for more information.  

The information you provide will be held strictly confidentially and in accordance with JUSTICE’s data protection policies. You do not need to provide any of your personal details. 

If you would like to provide your name and contact details, they will be used only by the JUSTICE staff for this project and will not be shared furt
her without your written consent. 
We anticipate this survey will take roughly 20 minutes of your time, depending on how many questions you respond to and the amount of detail you provide.

We would appreciate any responses as soon as possible, and latest by 31 July 2021.

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* 1. Are you happy to be contacted confidentially? If yes, please provide your name and contact details.

Legal Representation

We are interested in understanding how the relationship between prisoners and lawyers could be improved.

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* 2. If you had access to legal advice or representation, do you believe you were able to effectively communicate with you lawyer? If not, what problems did you have?

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* 3. If you did not have access to legal representation or advice, please explain why this was?

Information and Support

We are interested in understanding whether people are given enough information about how the parole process works, how their case is progressing, and what legal rights they have.

What are your views on any of the below:

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* 4. Whether the process and your legal rights were properly explained to you – for example, the right to a pre-tariff sift.

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* 5. Have any support or information services been helpful to you or others during the parole process? If so, what are these? And how were they helpful?

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* 6. What changes do you think could be made to improve how people communicate with the Parole Board? What is your view on:

(i) Parole Board caseworkers assigned to residents

(ii) Re-introducing interviews with Parole Board members

(iii) a “Parole Information Hub” that could be contacted directly to ask any questions about the parole process and your specific case

(iv) Do you have any other suggestions?

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* 7. Have you used the Parole Board helpline number? What was your experience like?

Effective Participation in the process

We are interested in understanding whether people are able to get their voices across throughout the process and what improvements could be made.

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* 8. Do you think you were given an opportunity to have your voice heard and influence the outcome(s) of the parole process? Are there any improvements you suggest? You may wish to comment on:

(i) Making representations to the Parole Board at the MCA stage

(ii) Stakeholder response forms

(iii) The Public Protection Unit Database (PPUD)

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* 9. What was your experience of your parole hearing(s)? You may wish to comment on:

(i) The questions that panel members asked you.

(ii) Whether your hearing feels different depending on who sits on the panel for your hearing – for example, the number of panel members you had, whether there was a judge, a psychologist and/or an independent member.

(iii) The Victim Personal Statement being read out at the start of the hearing.

(iv) What the parole hearing felt like for you, for example was it informal, relaxed, and allowed you to participate

Remote Hearings

These questions relate to the Parole Board’s decision to stop most in-person hearings during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are interested in understanding how you have experienced remote hearings, such as video hearings and telephone conferences. We would also like to understand if people want remote hearings to continue. Please state what type of hearing(s) you have experienced.  If you have not experienced a remote hearing, please feel free to share any thoughts or the experiences of others.

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* 10. What do you think are the main challenges and/or benefits with having a remote hearing? You may wish to comment on:

(i) Using the technology (for example, telephone or computer)

(ii) Speaking with your lawyer(s) or advisors

(iii) Understanding the questions asked by the panel

(iv) Being able to properly put your point across

Documents and decisions

The parole process can be very complex, with many long documents and confusing decisions made. We are interested in understanding how documents used and decisions made can be more easily understood. 

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* 11. Were you able to fully understand decisions made by the Parole Board? What improvements could be made? You may wish to comment on:

(i) Directions

(ii) Release/refusal

(iii) Licence conditions

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* 12. What are the biggest challenges with the information/documents received during the process? What improvements could be made? You may wish to comment on:

(i) Parole dossiers

(ii) Any specific report within the dossier

(iii) Legal aid forms

(iv) HCR-20s


We are interested in understanding how ethnicity, religion, culture and gender impact the parole decision making process and recall as well as how people feel treated.

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* 13. If you would like to answer question 14 below, please briefly say how you identify, including your ethnicity, religion and gender.

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* 14. What impact, if any, do you think your race, religion, culture, or gender had on your parole and recall experience. You may wish to comment on:

(i) How you were treated by Parole Board and HMPPS staff

(ii) Whether any specific needs were considered

(iii) Specific decisions, for example, release, open conditions, licence conditions, MAPPA, recall

Mental health and learning differences

We are interested in understanding how those who have mental health conditions, learning difficulties and disabilities experience the process. Mental health conditions include depression, anxiety, bipolar, paranoia. Learning differences include dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, ADHD.

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* 15. Do you think those with mental ill health are fully supported during the parole process? If you feel comfortable, please state if you have been affected mental ill health. You may wish to comment on:

(i) Any challenges that you or another resident faced.

(ii) Anything that the prison, probation service, or Parole Board did to make things easier for you? Or anything that they did that made things more difficult?

(iii) What improvements could be made

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* 16. Do you think those with learning differences are properly supported during the parole process? If you feel comfortable, please state if you have been affected learning differences. You may wish to comment on:

(i) Any challenges that you or another resident faced.

(ii) Anything that the prison, probation service, or Parole Board did to make things easier for you? Or anything that they did that made things more difficult?

(iii) What improvements could be made.

The most important thing

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* 17. Is there anything else you feel is important that you want to say? For example, if you could tell decision makers one thing that would make the parole process easier, what would it be?

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