Parole hearings can be heard in public for the first time following a change to the Parole Board Rules.

Parole Board

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Parole board hearings – private or public?

Parole is when a prisoner is released from custody before completing their prison sentence. When a prisoner is up for parole, a hearing is heard to determine whether or not parole should be granted.

In the past, parole hearings were always heard in private. However, as of 21 July 2022, parole hearings can be made public where appropriate. The change was made following calls for greater transparency, after it emerged in 2018 that the Parole Board intended to release black cab rapist John Worboys.

Requesting a public parole hearing

Anyone can request that a particular parole hearing be made public, including the prisoner, victims, members of the public or the media. The request will be considered by the Chair of the Parole Board, who will decide whether it is in the interests of justice to make the hearing public.

If a public parole hearing is allowed, the panel chair has the power to exclude certain people from the hearing, as per Rule 24.

Will all parole hearings be public?

The majority of parole hearings will remain private. A hearing should only be made public if it in the interests of justice to do so. The government has said that ‘most hearings would not meet this test’. This is due to the ‘sensitive nature of what is discussed, including offenders’ medical information and graphic accounts of their crimes’, along with ‘the need to protect victims’ privacy’.

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