Amendments to the Automatic Release Provisions for Specified Offences
August 1, 2022
S.130 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 (‘PCSCA 2022’) received royal assent on 28th April 2022 and came into force on 28th June 2022. This legislation has made amendments to the automatic release provisions for offenders sentenced to determine sentences.
Offenders Over 18 Years of Age
From April 2020, offenders who receive a determinate sentence of 7 years of more for a specified offence within Parts 1 or 2 of Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (‘CJA 2003’) for which life imprisonment can be imposed, will serve two-thirds of their sentence in custody before being automatically released on licence.
As of the 28th June 2022 this provision has been amended. In so far as specified sexual offences listed in Part 2 of Schedule 15, the threshold for the alteration of release provisions has been reduced from 7 years to 4 years.
In relation to specified violent offences listed in Part 1 of Schedule 15, the provisions as of April 2020 continue to apply. The 7 year threshold remains. However, for certain offences including manslaughter, s.18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and other offences related to murder, the threshold for the alteration of release provisions has been reduced from 7 years to 4 years.
Bars to Automatic Release
S.132 of the PCSCA 2022 also introduces provisions that bear similarities to the “dangerousness” provisions. For all offenders aged 18 or over at the relevant release date this section provides the Secretary of State with the power to alter the date of release where the offender is considered to be a significant risk.
Where an offender aged 18 or over is due for automatic release under this new provision, or the usual release provisions for release on licence or unconditional release, the Secretary of State may make a referral to the Parole Board in order to prevent release. This can be done where “the Secretary of State believes on reasonable grounds that the prisoner would, if released, pose a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm occasioned by the commission of” murder or a specified offence within Schedule 18 of the Sentencing Code.
If the Board does not direct the release of the offender, the Secretary of State should refer the case to the Board again no more than 1 year later.
Offenders under 18 years of age
As of the 28th June 2022, offenders under 18 years of age who receive a determinate sentence of 7 years or more for a specified sexual offence within Part 2 of Schedule 15 or one of the particular specified violent offences identified above in Part 1, will serve two-thirds of their sentence in custody before being automatically released on licence.
It is important to note there are no current provisions that relate to the other specified violent offences within Part 1 for offenders under the age of 18.
 Release of Prisoners (Alteration of Relevant Proportion of Sentence) Order 2020.
 PCSCA 2022, s.130 which imposes CJA 2003, s.244ZA.
 CJA 2003, s244ZA(5).
 CJA 2003, s.244ZA(4).
 CJA 2003, s.244ZA(5) and s.244ZA(7)(a). These are offences in Part 1 Schedule 15 of the CJA 2003 at paragraphs: 1, 4, 6, 64 and 65.
 CJA 2003, s.243A(2), s.244(1) and s.244ZA(1)
 PCSCA 2022, s.132 which imposes CJA 2003, s.244ZB.
 CJA 2003 s.244ZB(2); Sentencing Act 2020, s.306.
 PCSCA 2022, s.132 which imposes CJA 2003, s244ZC.
 CJA 2003, s.244ZA(6).