Although Legal Aid has been removed from many areas of Prison Law, we feel strongly that we should continue to represent prisoners in every aspect of prison law and go the extra mile to ensure our clients' best interests and rights are preserved. We have a small network of representatives around the country to help deal with any issues you or someone you care about who is in prison needs help with.
Our lawyers have strong expertise and regularly bring successful challenges against the Parole Board, Prison Service and other Ministry of Justice bodies.
Here is a typical list of our practice and how we may be able to help you:
We understand how important Parole Board hearings are. If you are applying to the Parole Board for release, our expert team can assist in a number of ways:
We visit our clients to prepare them for Parole Board hearings and guide them through the Parole process;
We regularly instruct experts, from Psychologists and Psychiatrists to leading Barristers and Independent Probation Officers, in order to challenge incorrect and damaging parole reports;
We prepare written representations for the Parole Board at the Member Case Assessment stage;
We provide expert advocacy at Oral Hearings;
If you receive a negative Parole Board decision, we can look at the Board’s recommendation or decision to advise whether Challenging negative decisions of the Parole Board.
A person who has been released from prison subject to licence conditions can be recalled to prison if they have been found to have breached a particular condition on their licence. We understand the need to take quick action to secure clients' re-release on licence. Our lawyers will prepare written representations for the PPCS and Parole Board on the client's behalf and will always seek to challenge negative decisions by way of an oral hearing.
We have a great deal of experience in this area and have a track record of successfully obtaining client's re-release at paper reviews and oral hearings.
How are Incorrect Sentences Recorded?
Errors can be made for a variety of reasons from a simple error in transfer of information from the Court to the prison records to remand time not having been taken into account. The Parole eligibility date may also have been calculated or recorded incorrectly. This means it's important to check.
If you or someone you care about has been sentenced and suspects that there has been a mistake in their calculation, the Prison’s internal complaints system should be able to deal with it. However, should the complaint system not be able to address the matter then our legal team can take matters further by ensuring that the wrongly calculated sentence is rectified.
If you want to make sure that or someone you care about doesn't have to spend a minute longer in prison than absolutely necessary, it's important to check the sentence has been correctly calculated.
This is not usually easy to do once you are in prison. It may require a legal representative who knows the system and can gain access to the necessary paperwork to review your information and whether your sentence details have been calculated correctly.
Our team of Prison Law specialists stay fully up to speed with current sentencing law and guidelines and are well experienced to review a sentence calculation and challenge it if necessary.
Adjudications are internal prison disciplinary procedures when inmates are alleged to have breached the Prison Rules, or if they are believed to have committed a more serious offence. Legal aid is only available for advocacy representation before an Independent Adjudicator.
For breach of internal prison rules, (according to the Prison Rules 1999), legal representation is not an automatic right. The prisoner must satisfy what are known as 'the Tarrant principles' when arguing to the Governor that they require assistance in the adjudication process. An example of the criteria that would allow for you to have representation is if the prisoner suffers with mental health problems or learning difficulties.
However, it is important to be aware that legal aid is not available for prisoners who are undergoing adjudications before a Governor. We offer this assistance at a fixed fee and are happy to discuss any questions you may have if you or your loved one is going through an adjudication. Please contact a member of our prison law team to talk through your issues.
Certain more serious cases, such as assaults or if an inmate is found with a mobile phone or with drugs, (which are criminal offences), require complete independence from the prison and in these situations, an independent adjudicator or visiting magistrate will undertake the role.
Independent adjudicators have additional powers to that of prison staff and prison governors. They have the ability to award up to an additional 42 days imprisonment on top of the prisoner's current sentence for each finding of guilt. PSI 47/2011 provides guidance as to the likely punishments a prisoner will face if found to have breached any of the prison rules.
For this reason, legal advice and advocacy representation is provided for independent adjudications and legal aid is still available in these circumstances.
Judicial Review is the mechanism by which any one can challenge a decision of a public body, if the decision is deemed to be unreasonable, irrational or unlawful, (terms that have particular legal definitions and not just as we understand them in day to day life).
When the case merits it we undertake a Judicial Review application and use leading human rights barristers to achieve the best outcomes for our clients.
Whilst legal aid has recently been affected for judicial review decisions, this does not deter our team from taking on cases where there is a clear breach of public policy and where our clients have clearly been affected.
Legal Aid (subject to a means test) may be available so that you will not have to pay for our advice. If you are not eligible for Legal Aid there are private payment options that can be discussed.
For additional information on the areas we cover, please contact us or call us on 01227 918436 / 0871 915 2468.