Assessing prisoners

Published date01 June 2022
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterIn court
have been twelve years, discounted to eight years, and this was substituted,
so that S.s sentence now totalled 105 months.
R v SHAW (ATTORNEY GENERALs Reference), [2022] 1 Cr App R(S) 5.
Assessing prisoners
Lifers progress truly outstanding?
In December 2002, at age 26 and of previous good character, E. had been con-
victed of the murder of two men who had angered him at a nightclub. He had
planned to attack them later that night when they were both incapacitated by
drink and he had subjected them to a prolonged and ferocious beating, using a
baseball bat and causing catastrophic injury. Under the provisions then applying
to tariff setting, the trial judge had reported to the Home Secretary that the
minimum term to be served before E. was eligible to apply for release should be
set at 19 years. No term had been set by the Home Secretary. Instead, E.’’s case
was referred to the High Court for the minimum term to be set under the transitional
arrangements under CJA 2003 (s269 and Sch.22 para.6). In October 2007 the
High Court specif‌ied that the minimum term should be 19 years (less the period
spent on remand).
In the early years of his sentence E. had completed accredited programmes
deemed relevant to his risk factors and had undergone one-to-one work with a psych-
ologist. His custodial conduct from the outset had been of a high standard and he
secured Category C status by 2009, by then embarked on Open University
degree studies in law. He had been an enhanced prisoner for many years,
playing a leading role in pro-social activities, for example by helping to establish
a scheme aimed at persuading young people away from a life of crime and initiating
an advice and assistance service to prisoners and staff on legal matters and prison
policies. He had been a Samaritan listener and a distance learning mentor.
When E. was subject to pre-tariff referral to the Parole Board in 2018 a risk
assessment in November 2017 had concluded that the risks of violence posed by
him had reduced to the point where they could be assessed as low in open condi-
tions or in the community. The Board had deemed his progress outstandingand
recommended that he could be safely managed in open conditions. Following his
transfer to an open prison he had fully maintained his progress, albeit that opportun-
ities there had been restricted by the COVID pandemic, though he had continued to
do everything that he possibly could. He was said to have adjusted well to open con-
ditions, had coped well with the recent death of his mother. He had started a new
relationship with someone whom he had known for many years. A prison off‌icer
described his behaviour on an escorted release as impeccable. With this record
he sought to secure a review of the High Courts determination of his minimum
term through pursuing an appeal to the Court of Appeal on the basis that his excep-
tional progress merited a reduction.
266 Probation Journal 69(2)

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