Uk Holds First Public Parole Hearing Following Government Reforms
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Uk Holds First Public Parole Hearing Following Government Reforms

The first public parole hearing in UK history is set to go ahead today following reforms to increase transparency and improve victims’ experience of the parole system.

Convicted murderer Russell Causley, who killed his wife Carole Packman in 1985, will become the first prisoner to have a public parole hearing after the government lifted the ban on public hearings in July this year.

Causley was released from prison by the Parole Board in 2020 after serving 23 years for the murder but was brought back to jail by the Probation Service in November 2021 for breaching his licence conditions.

For the first time, victims, the public and media will get to attend a hearing and better understand how decisions over whether to release prisoners are made. The change marks a major step in opening up the parole process, following calls for greater transparency after the subsequently reversed decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys in 2018.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab MP, said:

Pulling back the curtain on the parole process by allowing hearings to be heard in public is a major step forward for victims who want to see justice being done first-hand.

It marks the first step in our reforms to overhaul the system – putting victims and public protection front and centre of the process.

Public parole hearings form part of the government’s root and branch reforms to restore public confidence in the parole system and put victims at the heart of the process. Under previous rules, victims could ask for a personal statement to be read out on their behalf but were not allowed to witness parts of the hearing.

The government has already introduced a raft of changes since the reforms were announced in March this year. This includes tightening up the rules around open prison moves so all indeterminate sentence offenders – those who have committed the most serious crimes, including murder and rape – face much stricter criteria to move from closed to open prison. 

Further reforms, including a tougher release test for parole prisoners and new powers for the Justice Secretary to block the release of dangerous offenders, are also set to be introduced.

Other measures include increasing the number of Parole Board members with law enforcement backgrounds who can bring their experience of keeping the public safe to parole decision making.

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