Release on licence

Most prisoners in prison on determinate, ie fixed, sentences will be released at the half-way point of their sentence and will spend the remaining months or years of their sentence ‘on licence’. Being released on licence allows the prisoner to reintegrate into the community, rebuild family ties and helps to prevent re-offending.

What does being ‘on licence’ mean?
Being released ‘on licence’ means that for the rest of their sentence the released prisoner must stick to certain conditions. Time spent ‘on licence’ in the community is supervised by probation.

Before release from prison the offender will be given a licence and have the conditions explained, copies of the licence will also be kept by the prison as well as being sent to the probation supervisor. Copies will also be sent to the local Police force in the area where the offender will live and to the Metropolitan Police.

The paper licence received by the prisoner will include the six standard conditions below as well as any extra conditions that the offender manager judges necessary to enable progress and prevent future trouble. The prison should fully explain all of the licence conditions before release. If the licence conditions are broken the offender may be sent back to prison.

What are the conditions?
There are six standard licence conditions for prisoners serving determinate sentences

i) To keep in touch with your supervising officer in accordance with any instruction you may be given;
ii) If required, to receive visits from your supervising officer at your home/place of residence (e.g. an Approved Premises);
iii) Permanently to reside at an address approved by your supervising officer and notify him/her in advance of any proposed change to address or any proposed stay (even for one night) away from that approved address;
iv) Undertake only such work (including voluntary work) approved by your supervising officer and notify him or her in advance of any proposed change;
v) Not to travel outside the United Kingdom unless otherwise directed by your supervising officer (permission for which will be given in exceptional circumstances only) or for the purpose of complying with immigration/deportation;
vi) To be well behaved, not to commit any offence and not to do anything which could undermine the purpose of your supervision, which is to protect the public, prevent you from re-offending and help you to re-settle successfully into the community.
(Source: Ministry of Justice – PSI 34/2011)

Extra conditions may also be imposed including:

  • Contact requirement – the prisoner must keep in contact and attend appointments with drugs or other services and be available to receive home visits
  • Prohibited activity requirement – must not do certain things/ use certain equipment
  • Residency requirement – must live in a certain location
  • Prohibited residency requirement – must not live in particular location/ with certain individuals
  • Prohibited contact requirement – must not contact certain people
  • Programme requirement – must comply with treatment programmes
  • Curfew requirement – must stay at certain address between certain hours
  • Exclusion requirement – must not go to certain locations whether streets/areas or facilities such as parks or schools
  • Supervision requirement – must report to supervisor at regular intervals or inform them of certain relationships
  • Non-association requirement – must not contact certain people/members of certain groups/other prisoners

These extra conditions must be judged necessary for the individual and must be applied proportionately to the prisoner. Over time these will be reviewed and may be amended/ cancelled. The extra conditions use standard wording set out in PSI 34/2011

What happens if the offender breaks the terms of their licence?
If an offender breaks the terms and conditions of their licence they may be recalled to prison immediately, or, depending on the circumstances, receive a warning the first or second time they break the conditions of their licence. If the offender breaches their licence for a third time they will be recalled to prison.

How long will the licence apply?
How long the offender remains on licence depends on the length of the sentence, the age at conviction and the date of conviction. This will be stated in the licence.