In this

Frequently Asked Questions

As a victim will I be kept informed when the person who was imprisoned for the crime will be released?

If you are the victim of an offender sentenced to 18 months or more and have registered for the Victim Notification Scheme you will receive the date of release of the offender from prison or detention. This information will usually be sent to the victim about a month before the offender's date of release. You can find more information on the website. If you are the victim of an offender sentenced to less than 18 months you do not need to register on the scheme, you can write to us or give us a call. We will not be able to provide you with the information right away as we need to do some checks. We will try to provide you with the information as soon as is possible.

Can a prisoner be released into the community before their sentence is complete?

Yes in some defined circumstances that have been authorised, for example a prisoner can apply for compassionate leave and if granted they would be escorted. Also, prisoners nearing the end of their sentence may be released, under licence, for short periods of time.

When will the person imprisoned, for the crime in which I was a victim be released?

Sentences of under 12 months (Short Term Prisoner) will have automatic unconditional release at half sentence. Sentences of over 12 months /under 4 years (Short Term Prisoner) will have automatic unconditional release at half sentence. Sentences over 4 years (Long Term Prisoner) will be released at two thirds of sentence and supervised until end of sentence. They will be eligible for parole at half sentence. Life sentence will mean prisoners will have a Life Licence.

What is the lawful basis for making representations?

Section 17 to the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 has been amended to allow victims, who have registered to make written representations via the Victim Notification Scheme, to make written representations about the licence conditions that may be imposed when a prisoner first becomes eligible to be considered for temporary release from prison.

What is a Temporary Release?

Temporary Release is when a prisoner is given unescorted access to the community. Access is usually for a short period of time ie. one day but in the case of home leave this can be for a period of 8 days.Temporary Release is given for the following purpose: home leave, unescorted day release, unescorted day release for compassionate reasons, temporary release for work or unescorted day release for health reasons.

Why are prisoners given Temporary Release?

It is the role of the Scottish Prison Service to ensure that the sentence is served in accordance with the law, to challenge the factors that lead to the offending in the first place and to help individuals prepare for their return to the community better prepared to live a life free of offending should they wish to do so. This includes improving their work prospects by teaching new skills, providing education and work opportunities as well as ensuring that the necessary systems are in place to support the individual as well as manage any risks. Prior to providing temporary release a number of checks are undertaken with the police, community based social workers, health professionals and other agencies. This helps to ensure that any decision is as fully informed as is possible. Only those prisoners whose risks have been very carefully assessed as manageable in the community are given temporary release.

What is a Temporary Release Licence?

This is a document that the prisoner must carry with them at all times and must be shown to a police officer on demand. It sets out a number of conditions which the prisoner must comply with. If the prisoner is found not to be complying with the conditions, the temporary release will be cancelled and the prisoner returned to prison.

What conditions are in a licence?

The Governor can include prescribed conditions which are found in the Prison Rules or set his/her own conditions. There are standard conditions for example about behaviour, the consumption of alcohol or drugs as well as specific conditions which may be relevant to you or your circumstances.

What should my representations include?

Try to explain, in your own words, anything you feel is relevant to the decision of whether the offender should be granted Temporary Release. In particular, you can provide information about where you live and work to enable the Governor to consider whether or not to include an exclusion from a particular street/area.

What if I do not want to make representations?

We understand that making representations can be upsetting or challenging. If you change your mind and no longer want to make representations, simply let us know by contacting the number in the letter. We are still likely to include a condition in the temporary release licence which is relevant to you.

Will my representation stop the prisoner from being temporary released?

The main reason for your representations is to inform any licence conditions for the temporary release. If your representation contain information which is relevant to risk this may prevent a prisoner from being temporarily released. This ensures that victim's issues are integral to the considerations around temporary release.

Are there any other circumstances where a prisoner can be out of the prison?

A prisoner can be out for a number of other reasons however he or she will be escorted. A prisoner can be granted a Special Escorted Leave (SEL) to develop/re-establish links with family in preparation for a transfer to an open prison, home leave or eventual release; or to assist the prisoner in developing educational or employment opportunities. An Escorted Day Absence can be granted to a prisoner to visit a near relative who is dangerously ill or to attend the funeral of a near relative. Prisoners can also be taken out under escort for court appearances and hospital appointments.

Where will the prisoner take his Temporary Release?

We cannot provide you with a prisoner's release address. Normally home leave is taken with family; however, the address has to have been approved by the community based social worker. Work placement are usually taken in an area local to the prison.