Friday 8 August 2014

Harder Time: Recall to Prison

The UK’s overcrowded prisons wings hold both prisoners who are on remand and inmates who have been convicted. However, it can be forgotten that they also accommodate a significant number of 'recalls' - people who have been released on licence and then recalled to prison without being brought before the courts. For many cons the period they spend banged up on recall can prove to be far worse than their original custodial sentence.   

New name, same problems
The rules about recall to prison can be complex and depend on the type of sentence being served. Most prisoners who have been sentenced to fixed terms in custody will be released on licence at the halfway point. 

For example, on a four-year term of imprisonment, the inmate can expect to serve two years in prison, followed by two years on licence supervised by either the National Probation Service or by one of the newly created Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). Which body will be supervising during the period on licence is determined by the individual level of risk of re-offending the individual supposedly poses. Those who are deemed to be low and medium risk will be supervised by a local CRC as part of the government’s highly controversial ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ initiative. 

Life sentenced prisoners and those inmates who are serving Indeterminate Public Protection (IPP) Sentences – no longer imposed since 2012 – are subject to different rules. Lifers will be subject to life licence (and recall to prison) for the remainder of their lives, although IPPs can make an application to have their licence conditions lifted after they have been released back into the community for ten years. Other prisoners who are serving Extended Sentences will be on licence for longer periods than ordinary determinate sentenced prisoners. 

During any licence period, the individual who has been released is subject to his or her licence conditions. These consist of six so-called ‘standard’ conditions that are common to all ex-prisoners on licence:

Behave appropriately and not commit further offences or undertake any activity that may undermine their attempts to resettle in the community. 
Maintain contact with their supervising probation officer and do what is asked of them. 
Allow their supervising probation officer to visit them at home if they need to. 
Live at an address approved by their probation officer and keep them informed of any changes of address (even if only for one night). 
Only do work, paid or unpaid, that has been approved by their probation officer and keep them notified of any changes in employment. 
Not travel outside of the United Kingdom without prior permission.

Additional licence conditions, such as curfews, residence at an approved premises (hostel), submitting to testing for drugs, prohibition on contact with victims and participation in programmes can also be imposed depending on the nature of the offence and identified risk factors.

Not so very far from reality
It is very important to note that it is not necessary for an ex-prisoner who is on licence to commit any new criminal offence before he or she can be recalled, although an arrest for anything is almost certain to lead directly to a recall. Failure to abide by licence conditions or any behaviour that gives the supervising officer cause for concern can be sufficient to justify recall to prison at any time. 

There are two main schools of thought on recalls. Cons who have been recalled will tell anyone willing to listen that they have been returned to prison for “nothing”, although on closer questioning they usually admit to doing something daft – such as spending nights away from their approved address – or breaking some other condition in their licence, or being caught taking drugs. On the other hand, probation officers (now called ‘offender managers’) will claim that they really dislike recalling people and try to avoid it wherever possible because of the additional paperwork the whole process generates. My own view is that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

I do know a number of people who are not violent who have been recalled to custody because of disagreements with their probation supervisor. Others are back in the slammer because some aspect of their behaviour – which in anyone else might be considered a very minor, non-criminal matter – has caused “concern”. In my experience, this tends to happen in those cases where an offender manager was never really in favour of the individual’s release in the first place. 

Back so soon?
Once recalled to prison, however, the ex-prisoner immediately becomes a con once more. He or she reverts straight to Entry level within the revised Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) system and adult male prisoners go back into grubby, ill-fitting prison uniforms again. They have very limited privileges and are basically treated as new receptions for at least the first two weeks of their recall (although the rules do allow for at least some of the induction requirements to be waived).

According to the rules, all prisoners subject to recall should be given written reasons for what has happened. This is often called a ‘recall pack’. In practice, it can take weeks or longer for a recall to even get sight of any documents. 

What is far more psychologically stressful is the uncertainty that many recalls face over their futures. This is particularly acute for lifers and IPPs, since they are only released on licence once they have satisfied the Parole Board that their risk can be managed in the community. If recalled to prison, they will need to go through the whole parole process again, including having an oral hearing before the Board - always a very stressful experience.

Prisoners serving shorter, fixed sentences may either be recalled for a fixed term of 28 days – basically a kind of ‘short, sharp shock’ – or on a standard recall. The latter is applicable when a prisoner has been convicted of a violent or sexual offence, or where their risk is judged to be high. Those subject to standard recall may find that they will serve the whole of the rest of their original sentence in custody, or they can make an application to the Parole Board for re-release on licence.

It's all too true
There can be instances where prisoners slip through the cracks. As an Insider (peer mentor) in a C-cat prison, I once had to deal with a young bloke who had been released at the halfway point in his fixed term sentence, but had been recalled a week later when he was caught taking drugs. 

He was a nice lad, but a bit of a numpty. Because he didn’t bother seeking legal advice or following up on his recall, he just sat around in prison doing nothing. I discovered that no-one in the prison’s Offender Management Unit (OMU) had bothered to see him and he had already ended up serving an additional two years on recall without any review. No application had been made to the Parole Board because no-one had bothered to explain to him what he should or could do. Needless to say he was functionally illiterate. 

Finally, I wrote on his behalf to his offender manager (outside probation) and reminded her of his existence. His case eventually went before the Parole Board and was then granted immediate re-release. Unfortunately, I later heard that he’d gone back to drugs and had been recalled for a second time. Without proper support for his ongoing addictions – beyond being prescribed methadone while in custody – it was probably inevitable that he’d be in and out of the revolving door of the prison system.

If I have a constructive criticism to make of the present recall system it is the lack of communication between OMUs and the recalled prisoners. During the period of uncertainty, it is easy for inmates to get very depressed and either resort to self-harm or to even suicide. I believe that if each recalled prisoner had a clearer idea of the likely timescale involved, then at least some of these tragedies could be avoided.

The current recall system can also make it very difficult for ex-prisoners who are on licence to rebuild their lives back in the community. I know people personally who have been released on a parole licence, have found work fairly quickly and have started the difficult process of reintegrating back into ‘normal’ life when a very minor incident or misunderstanding has resulted in an immediate recall to prison. 

Hope: it's what keeps most prisoners going
In one swift stroke, everything that a person has achieved since his or her release from prison – employment, enrolment in education courses, finding accommodation – can be destroyed and they can be left teetering on the brink of mental breakdown and at risk of self-harm. It can also prove devastating to their families, who are often left feeling helpless and desperately worried for the safety of their loved one who is back in prison without any idea of when – or even if – they will be released, especially in the case of lifers or IPPs, who after having had a taste of freedom may again face years without knowing what their eventual fate will be.

Of course, I’m sure that in such cases the supervising officers would defend their actions in initiating the recall on the grounds of public protection. However, based on my own experience as an Insider of dealing with the fall-out and human cost that recall can involve, I think the way prisons deal with recalled cons could be greatly improved, particularly in terms of better communications and assigning personal officers who have experience of dealing with recalls and the special problems that they face.

It would be very interesting to know how many of those prisoners who have recently committed suicide in custody were actually on recall at the time. I suspect that the number will be much higher than anyone will be willing to admit publicly. I'm going to try to find out and I'll let readers know.


  1. Having recently completed nearly 18 months on licence I can fully understand the stresses placed on those facing recall. I never had any intention of committing any form of offence but constantly felt the pressure of being watched. Not so much for what I was actually doing, more so for what it was perceived that I might be doing – or about to do. Simple daily actions can been seen as being “bad behaviour” - the favoured catch-all of any Probation Officer. A misconstrued perception of an innocent action of mine (not even a perceived crime) could result in me serving a year or more inside. No courts, no judges - immediate return to prison. Trying to rebuild your life is immensely difficult upon release. Often newly released cons are placed with others of a similar ilk. Probation don’t like association with such types as you’re seen to be conspiring to do whatever they think you might be about to get up to. It’s an almost impossible situation to get out of.

    Conversely there are those who really should be recalled to prison. They’ve been given the chance to prove themselves and failed to do so. Probably down to the lack of rehabilitation they received inside but that’s another issue. Worryingly, with the impending privatisation of Probation services and the inevitable performance related payments, some of those who really should be recalled for committing worrying acts will not get recall. Any outside organisation measured on their ability to keep cons out of prison will be very unwilling to recall as it will degrade their performance figures. Poor performance will inevitably be very detrimental to the prospects of a renewal of their contract.

    1. It is not Probation Officers who set the 'be of good behaviour' condition, which is standard in every release on licence, but probation officers are required to decide whether behaviour that comes to their attention does merit a recommendation being made to the Secretary of State for a recall to be ordered, or possibly for a formal warning to be given.

      I practised for nearly 30 years, to 2003, mostly when there was not automatic release on licence - (that began in 1992 & worked in a prison for 5 years after that).

      I personally hardly ever recommended a recall, though did issue and recommend formal warnings a number of times. I am almost certain I was never involved as an outside pbn officer in any recall for not being of good behaviour - and for that matter also never being involved in a breach of probation or (as it was then called) Community Service for not being of good behaviour.

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  3. Thanks for your comment. It's very helpful to have such a considered and balanced view of how being on licence impacts on ex-prisoners. I agree with your view on just how precarious the situation can be while you are trying to rebuild your life after imprisonment.

    It's also interesting to get your opinion on the impact of the present privatisation of probation being implemented by the Ministry of Justice. It remains to be seen whether CRCs are capable of reducing re-offending (which I am very sceptical about) and whether there will be a marked impact on the number of recalls of low and medium-risk ex-prisoners. You've raised an interesting point. Thanks.

  4. Offender Managers NEVER recall a prisoner - in the final analysis.

    They report alleged breaches of the licence conditions, in accordance with what the legislation and Government instructions require, as far as they judge the situation. Sadly the recall process is not open to a judicial procedure before it takes place.

    The recall is sanctioned on behalf of the Secretary of State for Justice.

    Sometimes rather than recommend recall, a probation manager will issue or recommend a warning rather than support immediate recall. The Secretary of State's representative might also issue a warning rather than order recall.

    There has to be a review of the decision, I am almost certain - though am some years away from practice and my memory maybe wrong - how the prisoner responds to the formal notice of the reasons for recall, is significant - sometimes they are long delayed and prisoners are always wise to seek legal advise - which is not always straightforward. In some circumstances the recall itself or the way it is processed can be challenged by way of Judicial Review, although I was never personally involved when there was a Judicial Review.

    I am not suggesting that the decisions to recommend recall are never wrong, but as far as the OM's are concerned they are just recommendations.

    My personal experience as a prison probation officer between 1997 & 2002 is that recalls were usually badly handled once the prisoner was back in the gaol and he (I worked in a men's prison) very often had no idea of what the process was, unless they had engaged a solicitor - sometimes they got good advice from other cons, but not always because the other cons only had the prisoners explanation to go on and may not have seen all the paperwork, including that relating to the original conviction and release.

    The situation is set to get MUCH worse if the government ever does implement its very poor Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014, which it has been stated will be implemented by the end of this year.

  5. Thanks for your contribution to this discussion. It's great to have input from Probation professionals who have first-hand knowledge of these situations. I would definitely agree with you over the issue of just how badly recalls are handled by prisons - as I've noted in my original post. There is a great deal of uncertainty among recalled prisoners over the procedures and, to be honest, in some cases known to me personally, the appropriate procedures as set down in PSI 07/2013 haven't been followed.

    I'm also interested in your analysis of the actual process of initiating a recall. My understanding is that the supervising manager initiates the procedure - presumably after initial consultation with their internal management - by issuing a Request for Recall Report within 24 hours of taking an "in principle" decision. This Request is directed to the Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS) at NOMS.

    While I accept that the actual final decision lies with the PPCS - which acts on behalf of the Secretary of State to revoke the licence - it seems clear that it is the individual supervising manager who initiates the process based on their assessment of the offender's behaviour and perceived risk. Therefore, while it is correct to say that an OM never actually recalls the person to prison, they are responsible for initiating the process. I would imagine that in this risk averse era it's highly unlikely that the PPCS would ever refuse to action a Request for Recall - but I may be wrong on that!

    I was discussing this very issue with a serving OM last week and she acknowledged that in general there is a reluctance to breach unless there was no other viable option. She pointed out that there is a great deal of paperwork involved, but mentioned that the main reasons for recall in her experience were people on licence changing address without notifying their OM; repeated failure to maintain contact with their OM and, of course, in some cases committing further offences while on licence.

    1. Remember I stopped practising in 2003 and instigated no recalls after 1997 because of the position I held in a prison.

      My first ever parole case went wrong in about 1975 when there was a complete muddle - I cannot remember the details but I think a case was formally transferred to me and then I did not get the file or read it properly or was distracted and on holiday.

      Anyway it turned out the bloke, in ignorance, was away from home working on a north sea oil rig. I must have got the support of my SPO - the client was obviously doing well, but clearly did not understand the importance of the parole licence conditions. I made contact with his family, this was pre mobile phones, and got the situation regularised when he was back on leave. A very good experience for me.

      There after with every parolee (automatic conditional release did not begin until 1992) on my first meeting after their release (which would have usually come after a long relationship with me and have been recommended by me) I would look them straight in the eye - Having gone through every condition with them - they would have signed the licence at the gaol, usually without having conditions stressed - I would say , if they did not see me or phone on the day of each appointment - I would report their lack of contact to my manager and that could result in an immediate recall. I hardly ever had to do it, and anyway would always try to initiate contact myself.

      Latterly (I realised this was coming in about1992) probation officers seemed to be expected to catch folk out, however many of us tried to avoid recall, but not one of us set the conditions although, often I was consulted about special conditions -such as not to speak to a victim (maybe).

      I have not studied the latest instructions, the probation service(s) are, despite the good intentions of many staff, changing their focus, as I realised when I spoke to many recalled prisoners, back in the gaol, with the focus from government being on enforcement, not even compliance, although I and many, many others see the aim as support to succeed whilst also minimising dangers to the public and encouraging supervisees to keep to thee conditions set in the court orders which require them to be supervised. A difficult balance!

      Sorry if I was not clear before - keep writing - you are doing a good job - folk need to understand the detailed reality.

    2. Thanks again for that contribution, Andrew, and for your encouragement and support. For a few weeks I had the impression that the blog was getting thousands of views, but no-one was ready to start making comments or asking questions. That is now changing and it seems to be attracting a heathy readership mix of former prisoners, prisoners' families and friends, professionals within the CJ system, academics, students, the media and even a few politicians, as well as a more general audience who is just curious about what goes on inside British prisons. So far, no serving prison officers (or at least none willing to say they are!)

      Anyway, hopefully the blog posts are reasonably well balanced and reflect the current reality. The more informative comments and contributions we get, the better.

  6. Many thanks for your very interesting and informative insight into the issue of managing people on licence from a probation officer's perspective. When I started this blog at the beginning of July my aim was to try to dispel at least some of the more common myths and misconceptions about prisons, prisoners and custodial sentences. I always hoped that some of the blog posts would stimulate sensible debate about key issues and your contribution, along with Andrew's above, is very welcome.

    Since launching this blog I have quite a lot of contract with prisoners' families and recall to custody is one of the top concerns, particularly when the person who is on licence is a sole carer or the main source of household income. It is reassuring to know from a serving professional that decisions to make a Request for Recall are not taken lightly.

    As I mention above in the main blog post some people who have been recalled often give a very one-sided account of events. When I was working as an Insider I did try to get them to analyse their own situation a bit more honestly and with more insight so they could better brief their legal representatives (assuming they even had a solicitor, which many don't) ahead of any review. I tried to get people to see that the "I didn't do anything at all" line wasn't going to convince me - or the Parole Board.

    On the other hand, the issue of how recalls are dealt with while back in prison remains a cause of serious concern, especially at a time when incidents of suicide and self-harm are rising very significantly. In my view the critical shortages of front line staff, particularly on wings and in OMUs, are putting the entire prison system under unbelievable strain while politicians spin the line that everything is under control. It isn't and Team Grayling is sitting on top of an active volcano, seemingly oblivious to the potential for disaster and ignoring all warnings to the contrary..

  7. Alex, as a serving PO I am very cautious above going down the recall route, not least of which an ACO warning and a chat between the offender and my/a manger would appear in most cases to suffice. Now to the sticky bit....

    Many Probation Officers do not have the time to recall somebody unless there is a further (similar) offence and/or one which leads to an increase in risk of harm to others. This is not due to them being lazy but more to do with a bureaucratic system, the effects exacerbated by a computer system (N Delius) which does little more that swallow huge amount of a PO's time'; I'll assure you that recall is often the last thing we wish to do.

    I've been reading your blog for a while (linked to the 'On Probation Blog') and I do enjoy gaining another perspective (and indeed possible impact) to the work I do. Keep it up.

    Oh, and to those who are on Licence, relax, attend your appointments and be honest. We're only trying to help and yes we do get a bit suspicious but it's in our nature. We don't mean it but it's the result of the job. If you have issues, please speak about them to you PO who will be only too happy and willing to help.

    1. Hi and thanks very much for your comment. As I've mentioned in the earlier replies above I'm really keen to have contributions from every part of the criminal justice system. There are as many misconceptions and myths about probation as there are about prisons and prisoners, so as much informed discussion as possible is needed!

      I think my own perceptions of recall (never having been subject to it myself, so far at any rate) are based on the individuals I've worked with and supported on prison wings. I've always been healthily sceptical of the reasons fellow prisoners initially disclose about the reasons for recall because it's almost never as simple or straightforward as is usually claimed! On the other hand, I've seen people who are recalled spending a very long time back in custody - at a substantial cost to the taxpayer - when recall has seemed to be a risk-averse over-reaction, particularly when other less drastic options might have been explored first.

      As others contributors have noted above, a significant part of the problem seems to be at the prisons' end. OMUs are incredibility over-stretched as staff numbers have been reduced. In some D-cats they have been forced to pass over much of the initial ROTL application processing work to trusted prisoners. I know because that is one of the jobs I did for many months and why I was asked to participate in a NOMS fact-finding mission concerning the future of ROTL and prisoners' expectations and perceptions.

      When OMUs are completely overwhelmed, recalls do seem to fall down to the bottom of the pile, even when there has been no new offence committed (whether of the same type or something different). As more dossiers and reports will need to be prepared for oral hearings by the Parole Board, I fear this situation can only get worse.

      Even those firms of solicitors who advertise in Inside Time or Converse for new clients are often very reluctant to get involved with recall cases. This does put considerable stress on those who find themselves back in prison (and their families), particularly if they have to wait for many weeks or even months before receiving their recall pack from the OMU before they can even start to think about preparing their own reps.

      I think that one of the contributions this blog can offer is to facilitate wider discussion of these issues. I have become aware of the various disconnects between various sectors of the criminal justice system, so hopefully this blog can inform and stimulate a productive exchange of views. It also allows ex-prisoners to be honest about their perceptions in a way that they wouldn't be if they were face to face with probation officers or prison staff.

      Anyway, thank you for your input and encouragement. The recent level of visits to the blog (we're actually up to more than 70,000 views via Google+) has convinced me that it must be of interest to quite a few people, so I plan to continue developing it for as long as there is a demand out there!

  8. I only wish my son's probation ofiicer was a balanced as those posting. My son was made homeless 2 days before Christmas as the result of the new DVPN/O available to the police. A one-off never before incident in which his partner did not want to take any further action. (He has no history of violence). Ejected from his home, he was immediately in breach of his licence conditions, he has no family in the UK and no services were available to help him over Christmas. The address he gave to the police was a friend's house, were he knew he could not stay over Xmas, but it was all he had. The police raided the friend at 5am on boxing morning to arrest him.
    He has been fighting many demons, with no help from the offender manager, who seems happy that he comes in with a smile and causes her no problems.
    he is self harming and says that, if/when he is returned he will find a way to kill himself.
    As a mother I am at my wits end against a system that seems stacked against the individual. There are clearly inadequate resources available to propertly police the system and people are simply becoming case numbers in many situations. getting one off your desk by recalling sounds like an easy option.I feel helpless.
    My best wishes to all the caring POs out there, I wish my son had one.

    1. Hi Sue, I am very sorry to read about your son's situation - and the obvious distress that it is causing for you. It must be especially difficult as you yourself aren't living in the UK.

      I have had discussions with serving POs about the whole issue of recall and it does seem that there are two conflicting schools of thought. Although most POs stress that a request for recall is never issued lightly, a few have mentioned that there is a much more risk adverse culture within some offices where recall appears to be more of a default setting.

      A couple of officers whom I know quite well (and whose judgement I tend to trust) have told me that they are fairly reluctant to recall (other than where there is a perceived risk of reoffending or a suspected new offence) unless there has been a series of incidents involving non-compliance or a failure to reside at an approved address. They emphasise that a decision to issue a request for recall does involve a significant amount of additional paperwork so would only be done as a last resort. I do get the impression that much rests on the personal 'chemistry' that exists between the person on licence and the supervising officer.

      Obviously, it's not possible for me to know the full background, so it's difficult for me to make any specific suggestions other than to follow what Andrew and others have recommended below. I think a good solicitor who has expertise in recall would definitely be required to assist your son through the legal aspects of the forthcoming process.

      Given what you have written about your son's self-harming and thoughts of suicide, I would also strongly suggest that these concerns are shared with the prison, along with his fears for his own safety from the person he states has threatened him. Some prisons do have a dedicated safer custody phoneline for families to raise such concerns. These calls should be logged and appropriate action taken by a custodial manager to monitor your son's well-being. In my experience some prisoners will not mention such issues to staff during the reception process, so it is important that family members raise their concerns. In my view this can only help in view of the current difficult situation.

      I really do hope that your son gets the professional legal advice and support he needs. Even if you aren't in Britain, I think you can still be a vital source of help for him and just knowing that you are there for him will make a massive difference.

    2. Alex:

      I don't wish to be, nor do I mean to rude. However, it appears you have very little "real life" knowledge of the legal system and the way its "officers" treat prisoners. Reading through the replies, it comes across as all be very rationale, clean and tidy when infact the Truth is, it is far from the Truth. There is a HUGE problem. Those that this discussion affects are NOT being heard, and from what I see, no one is truly interested in hearing from them.
      Personally, I am disgusted with the British Legal System, it is antiquated, cruel and to be honest very abusive! Blind studies are often controlled studies, this I look at as being a double blind\ study. On paper it all looks above board but the facts are, no one in the system does their job adequately when it comes to the prisoners and their rights. It has become the accepted norm.

  9. Apologies for the spelling and grammar errors in the above post. I am typing through tears.

    1. I am very sorry.

      Probation work in England and Wales now comes fully under the authority of the Ministry of Justice who are answerable via their Ministers to Parliament, If you have the energy please pursue the matter with an MP, who hopefully will take it up with the relevant Minister and also possibly advise your son of other agencies able to assist now.

      I hope your son has a solicitor.

      I am loathe to make any direct suggestions because I am long away from practise.

      If I wanted to find information about supportive solicitors I think I would first look at Inside Time, though there are other sources of information.

    2. Thank you for that Andrew, I was not expecting a reply, just venting my frustration.
      Yes, he has a solicitor, not sure how good. Unfortuately, ( or maybe fortunately!) I don't live in the UK and no longer have an MP, or indeed any rights at all in the UK despite having worked and paid for 42 years, another annoyance.
      If he had been allowed to come to me when released on licence, it would have saved all of this heartbreak and an awful lot of Taxpayers money.
      He now tells me he is worried about going back to Woodhill as there is someone in there who has threatened serious harm. So another circumstance about whiich I can do little.
      His probation officer also says the police are 'heavily' pursuing turning the DVPO into a criminal charge and requested the home office to make the recall to give them time to persuade his partner to make a statement. She desparately wants to halt the whole thing, she was not hurt and feels the police made much more of it than it actually was.
      Sorry, rambling again!
      Thank you. Sue

    3. There will be an MP for the area where he was living - who hopefully is interested because of a general concern about crime.

      It is a standard condition on all release licences where a person is under supervision by a probation worker on behalf of the ministry of justice that they do not travel abroad without permission - there are a lot of good reasons for that, but there will be exceptions where allowing overseas travel is in everyone's best interest.

      Unfortunately there has been a need for improved international treaties in this area for many years, but it is very complex international law (in my opinion) and as it only affects a comparative few, there is no apparent interest in pursuing it.

      I am not going to risk commenting on his individual case - because I would probably be wrong - but consulting a solicitor with expertise in this area, I suggest is the best way forward.

      There are also specialist prisoners' advice organisations who may be prepared to take this up, though I am not sure who is best, maybe another reader or Alex will add some more helpful remarks. Meanwhile, him knowing, by your letters, that you are on his side, is likely to be uplifting. Although, the actual experience of being in prison is rarely joyful, for most, with experience of surviving in custody will make it okay as long as they endeavour to cooperate rather than get into conflicts - though sometimes avoiding all conflict can be hard and not necessarily best in the long run.

      There is another Prisoners newsletter, though non prisoners need to pay to get an online committee - it is produced by the bloke who now produces the Prisoners Handbook who has a lot of experience

    4. As a practising officer I would like to confirm much of what has been said above. Recalls are not decisions made lightly and not a decision taken by one individual. If I have any concerns, this is first discussed with immediate line manager. Any missed appt will generally be addressed with a warning, followed by a second warning if required. A home visit is generally attempted to regain compliance. Only if there are concerns regarding whereabouts unknown or blatant non compliance of Licence conditions then be considered for recall in which case it would most likely be fixed term. This has to be supported by a line manager and then Director before being submitted to NOMS where decision is endorsed or otherwise on behalf of SoS. In the case of reoffending, the decision to warn or recall will depend on offence, compliance/behaviour prior. Again line manager and director approval is required before it is submitted for approval by NOMS on behalf of SoS. I am aware of cases where standard recall has been recommended but fixed term recall has been decision made on behalf of SoS. I do not have any experience of any recall request being declined totally and I would suggest that this is because a Director would not approve any recall process prior to submission to NOMs if it were not deemed appropriate.

    5. Just a quick note of thanks to everyone who has responded to Sue's request for advice. Your comments are much appreciated.

  10. a family member was sentenced to 4years custody after release and 1 year and 9month into his probation he had crashed his car under the influence of alcohol, he was the financial support of his family so he choose to leave the country before he was charged and worked else where, i would like to know what would be the outcome if he returned to uk:

    1. will he be arrested imediately at the airport?

    2. recall is a must, but would he be looking at the remaining 3month left? or start fresh with the 2years?

    3. would having a good solicitor help the situation?

    Look forward to you reply.


    1. Thanks for your questions. Obviously, I'm not a solicitor and I'd definitely advise getting proper professional advice on this issue. However, my opinion is as follows. If he returns to the UK then clearly there will be issues that need to be dealt with.

      Do you know whether his licence was revoked by Probation? If so, then he has been unlawfully at large since that was done. Moreover, by leaving the country without permission while on licence, that would be a further breach of his conditions, although if the licence had been revoked anyway, the breaches should be dealt with together.

      Based on my own knowledge, I think he would definitely be liable to serve the final three months of his sentence in custody. Whether he would be arrested immediately at the airport is uncertain, but there may well be a flag by his name when he arrives at passport control. My guess is there probably would be. Since all passenger details are now entered into the system before flying, it has become much easier for the police to track arrivals, so if he does decide to return he should be prepared to be detained.

      The period he'd be recalled for is - I'm pretty certain - only the final three months of the sentence. Since he had already served 21 months on licence, this period shouldn't be reckoned twice. Again, double check this with a solicitor.

      Do you know whether he will be facing further charges over the crashed car and DUI? if so, then he should also get legal advice on the implications of this.

      Getting a good solicitor is pretty much a must in such circumstances. I hope that these answers are helpful. Alex

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  12. Any advice for a person who has been recalled due to missing 2 appointments through not receiving the letter in the mail until dates had passed. The person seems to be suffering from panic attacks before each appointment and seems depressed as sleeping a lot and having nightmares. Has gone to interviews to get work in charity shop etc. Has different circumstances as has new family support and not re-offended.

  13. Hi
    If I ask a question about my
    Partners charges and his recall can someone answer it please

  14. Hi, I have been reading up on this particular blog as my partner had been recalled 2 weeks ago on a Standard recall. His story is so heart breaking and to make matters worse I got a phone call today that he had tried to commit suicide. I am so angry with the system and the promised help he was supposed to have received. Please can someone help me with where I would need to go with regards to making a complaint to the MP? He hasn't yet received his recall pack due to staff shortages in prison. Please can someone give me an indication to where I can start as I keep getting sent from pillar to post. Basically he breached his licence conditions by not staying at his approved premises (they housed sex offenders) and previously had an episode in Prison where he was nearly raped. The same offender resided in the premises which lead him to leave immediately. He noticed staff but was too late by then. Was then (standard) recalled back to prison. The support he was given has been absolutely crap (I am witness to this). He was given the AP due to being homeless and i helped the probation officer to get him recalled the 28 days in the first place. I'm a worried partner that this system doesn't help to rehabilitate offenders yet will just look for short cuts into doing their work. I am sick to my stomach to hear about this kind of story multiple times in many forums and fear that it'll only get worse. If someone has any answers please can you help. Thanks