Supervising Offenders on Release

Most prisoners do not serve the whole of their sentence in custody.  At a predetermined stage they are released to serve the rest of their sentence in the community.

Automatic Conditional Release (ACR)

Those sentenced to less than a year are released after serving half their sentence and are not supervised.  Those sentenced to between a year and 47 months are released on licence after half the sentence and are supervised by probation until the end of the sentence.

Discretionary Conditional Release (DCR)

Those sentenced to four years or more can be released on parole after serving half their sentence, but are automatically released on licence after serving two thirds of the sentence.  All of these individuals are supervised by probation.

The length of the supervision period depends on the length of the sentence and the point at which the prisoner is released.  This can vary from three months for someone sentenced to a year’s custody to the remainder of his/her life for someone sentenced to life.  A licence period that runs for the remainder of an offender's life is called a life licence.  Offenders can be recalled to serve the rest of their sentence if they breach their licence conditions.

Supervision on Release

Offenders released under the supervision of the National Probation Service or the Community Rehabilitation Company must report to a nominated offender manager immediately after release.  The offender manager will set appointments and draw up a supervision plan with the offender.

The sentence plan addresses issues such as housing, employment and reintegration into the community and aims to prevent re-offending.

A release licence may include conditions such as living at a hostel, not committing further offences or staying away from the area where the crime was committed.  Any breach of the licence can mean a return to prison to serve the remainder of the sentence in custody.

Home DetentionTag on offender's ankle Curfew (HDC)

Popularly known as tagging, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 extended existing schemes so that prisoners can, subject to satisfactory assessment of risk to the public, apply for release under electronic surveillance.  A monitoring device is fitted to an individual’s ankle and linked to sensors at their home address.  During the day, the offender is free to leave the house, but they are subject to strict overnight curfews (usually between 7.00 pm - 7.00 am).

Tags are fitted and monitored by private security companies under contract to the Home Office, but individuals are also required to attend supervision appointments with their probation officer.  HDCs are intended to allow offenders to attend work or training courses during their day, but prevent them from getting into trouble at night.