The Government’s recent decision to order prison governors in England and Wales to review the cases of all prisoners refused early release under the new Home Detention Curfew (HDC) Scheme has brought concern within the legal profession.
Concern about the mental well-being of prisoners and their families who have been left in a state of confusion after having their hopes of release previously thwarted and now raised, was voiced this week by respected local Prison Law expert, Emma Simoes, a partner with North Wales and Shropshire law firm GHP Legal.
Emma says her firm has received a number of enquiries from prisoners’ and members of their families, asking for the regulations and conditions for release to be explained and for advice because their applications for release were refused.
“The Home Detention Curfew (HDC) Scheme applies to all prisoners serving a sentence of between 3 months and four years who qualify for early release under HDC,” says Emma, “but some prisoners are statutorily excluded from the scheme. Those prisoners that qualify for HDC can serve their remaining time at home, under strict monitoring, once part of their sentence has been served. They are required to wear an electronic tag and their time outside of home is limited and restricted. They can be released between 2 weeks and 120 days early, depending on the length of their sentence, and after being risk assessed by the Probation Service.
“The assessment process for HDC and the number of forms that need to be completed can also be daunting. We are being approached for support in submitting applications and making representations as well as looking at applications that have been denied and advising whether or not those decisions should be challenged, and in what way. In short, prisoners and their families are confused and also wary that they could go through the application process again and have their hopes dashed again too. But if people in this area have concerns they can come and talk to us before making any decisions.”