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Prisoners bill completes passage through Parliament

4 November 2020


The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill returned to the House of Lords on Tuesday 3 November for consideration of Commons amendments in ‘ping pong’.

Members discussed the Commons disagreement to a Lords amendment on the creation of a Parole Board database of victims' family members. After a short debate, the motion not to insist on the Lords amendment was agreed to without a vote. 

Both Houses have now agreed the text of the bill and it awaits Royal Assent, the Queen’s formal approval, when it will become an Act of Parliament (law).

Royal Assent is scheduled to take place when the House of Lords meets at 12pm on Wednesday 4 November.

Lords third reading: Tuesday 8 Septmeber

No changes to the wording of the bill were suggested ahead of third reading.

Members discussed the progress of the bill through the House at its conclusion of Lords stages.

Following completion of third reading, the bill now returns to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments.

Lords report stage: Wednesday 1 July

Members discussed a range of subjects including a prisoner's mental capacity to disclose information and creating a database of victims' family members.

There were two votes (divisions) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.

Members considered a change (amendment 3) which would require the Parole Board to take into account the findings of a Newton hearing (a short hearing held before a judge without a jury to resolve disputed facts before sentencing) regarding the prisoner's reasons for non-disclosure, if one was held after a verdict or plea of guilty.

Members voted 142 in favour of this amendment and 266 against, so the change was not made.

A second vote was held on a change (amendment 17) to require the Parole Board to create and maintain a database of victim's family members, in order to update them on an offender's parole application.

Members voted 267 in favour and 241 against, so the change was made.

Third reading, a chance for members to make sure the eventual law is effective, workable and without loopholes, is yet to be scheduled.

Lords committee stage: Wednesday 20 May

Members discussed a range of topics relating to a prisoner's hearing, including the rejection of parole applications for non-disclosure or mental health reasons, prisoners' mental capacity to disclose information and provision of information to the victim or victim's family.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 28 April

Lord Keen of Elie (Conservative), Lords spokesperson in the Ministry for Justice, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government.

Members discussed a range of subjects, including:

  • the legal obligation of the Parole Board to ensure that the non-disclosure of information is always considered when making release assessments
  • support for victims in compiling and presenting evidence to Parole Board panels
  • protection for prisoners with mental health issues and the balance between the need for justice and the respect for human rights.

Bill summary

This bill ensures the Parole Board takes into account circumstances where offenders do not disclose certain details about their offences, specifically the location of victims' remains and the identity of child victims in indecent images thereby causing additional distress to victims and their families, when assessing whether such an offender should be released from prison.

Further information

Image: PA