An error has been identified in the written answer given on 04 September 2014.
The correct answer should have been:
The number of indeterminate sentenced prisoners held in open prisons in England and Wales, for financial years 2012 - 2014, can be found in table 1.
A life sentence is mandatory on conviction for murder. Under a life sentence, and an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), the court determines the minimum period to be served in prison for the purposes of punishment and deterrence. Prisoners serving these indeterminate sentences have no automatic right to be released. If released they are subject to recall for the rest of their life or, in the case of an offender serving an IPP, for at least 10 years. Public protection is the priority and the release of indeterminate sentence prisoners once they have served their minimum term is entirely a matter for the Parole Board.
Progression to open conditions is never automatic and only follows a satisfactory assessment of risk, generally involving the independent Parole Board in the case of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences.
The Parole Board may recommend such prisoners for open conditions if, for example: they have successfully completed any offending behaviour programmes identified in their sentence plan as essential to the risk reduction process; their behaviour in custody is such that it is considered that a move is appropriate; and their risks are manageable in open conditions.
Once allocated to open prison, prisoners continue to be monitored and are returned to closed prison immediately if there are any concerns about their suitability for low security conditions.
Open prisons have been used since 1936, because they are the most effective means of ensuring that prisoners are suitably risk-assessed before they are released into the community under appropriate licence conditions. When a prisoner moves to the less rigid structure of open conditions an assessment can be made in a relatively safe environment of how the prisoner will adapt to increasing responsibility. For many prisoners, in particular those such as life sentence prisoners, who have spent a considerable amount of time in custody; these are essential components for successful reintegration in the community and therefore an important factor in protecting the public.