Statement: early prison release scheme to end

23 February 2010

The Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, made a statement in the Commons announcing that the release of prisoners under the early release scheme will be brought to an end on 12 March.

End-of-custody licences (ECL) were introduced in June 2007 to manage temporary pressure on prison places and to guarantee that cells were available for all those receiving custodial sentences.

It allowed prison governors to release on licence up to 18 days before the end of their sentence offenders who had been given a determinate prison sentence of between four weeks and four years.

ECL specifically excluded those convicted of serious violent crimes or sexual offences; those who had broken the terms of temporary release in the past; and foreign national prisoners who would be subject to deportation at the end of their sentence. The scheme was later amended to exclude anyone convicted of terrorism-related offences.

ECL will end on 12 March this year. Although various eligible prisoners will be released beyond that date, no prisoners will be released on ECL from and including 10 April.

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