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Department of Home Affairs update on meeting Parole Inquiry

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Island's parole system has been substantially updated and major progress has been made towards meeting recommendations for improvement set down in a landmark public inquiry.

An independent inquiry commissioned after the tragic death of Gwen Valentine in April 2014, produced 26 separate recommendations to improve the parole system. They include reforms to existing practice and procedures and several new initiatives.

The inquiry led by Geoffrey Karran MBE, TH, looked into the circumstances of parole being granted to the individual who subsequently caused Mrs Valentine's death while still on licence. The final report was received in 2017 and Government promised to report back on progress in adopting the new measures. This update has now been published online.

The document assesses progress using a red-amber-green or RAG rating system, to show clearly which recommendations have been implemented, which are still being addressed and those where action has still to be taken. It reports that 19 are rated green, five amber and two red (two of which are not being pursued, one of which will continue to be monitored).

Measures put in place as a result of the recommendations include a requirement for a Custody Release Plan to be drawn-up to ensure robust arrangements are in place for those granted parole, with a view to public safety. In addition, the Prison and Probation Service now operates a 24/7 on-call system, so that police officers can report concerns about breaches of parole conditions at any time. The Victim's Code, which is designed to assist victims and witnesses of crime and advise them of what support is available to them, has also been published and is available.

Elsewhere, there are plans to include in the Parole Committee's case file the judge's sentencing remarks at the trial of an individual seeking release. This wider context of the case will inform the committee's recommendation to the Minister on whether to grant a detainee release on licence.

Minister for the Department of Home Affairs Bill Malarkey said:

'I am pleased to see that considerable progress had been made on implementing the recommendations. The Department is committed to examining the parole process on an ongoing basis, to monitor its effectiveness, and we will introduce further improvements where identified.'

He added:

'It is very important to recognise Stuart Valentine's positive involvement in working with the Department, without which the progress that has been made would not have been as substantial or indeed have so effectively changed the way parole is operated.'

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