Prison Service Instruction 56/2001
Revised Chapters of the Lifer Manual
4700 - Life Sentence Prisoners
04 December 05 December
CONTAINS MANDATORY INSTRUCTIONS
For Action Monitored by
Governing Governors, Lifer Managers Area Managers, Lifer Unit, Local
For Information On authority of
Lifer Managers, Area Managers Prison Service Management Board
Paul Jackson, Lifer Unit, Abell House. Tel: 020 7217 5785
Other Processes Affected
REVISED CHAPTERS OF THE LIFER MANUAL
Policy and output
1. This instruction introduces a revised chapter 5 of PSO 4700 - The Lifer
Manual. This Chapter provides updated guidance on dealing with the
various review processes for lifers in general and introduces revised
procedures for processing Parole Board reviews for mandatory lifers in
Mandatory Action – By Governors
2. The arrangements set out in the revised Chapter 5 must be implemented
for all mandatory lifer Parole Board reviews starting on 1 April 2002 or
3. Governors of lifer establishments must ensure that all staff working with
life sentence prisoners have access to the revised Chapter which must be
included in the Lifer Manual (PSO 4700). The existing Chapter 5, dated
May 1999, should be destroyed.
4. Governors of local prisons and other establishments holding life sentence
prisoners for short periods must also ensure that staff directly responsible
for managing these prisoners have access to the revised Chapter.
5. The Manual including the revised Chapter must be available for
consultation by prisoners and members of the Board of Visitors on
RESOURCE AND IMPACT IMPLICATIONS
6. The new arrangements set out in Chapter 5 for mandatory lifer reviews
may involve small additional photocopying costs for the copies of Parole
Board dossiers for Parole Board members conducting interviews with
prisoners. However, it has been agreed with the Parole Board that
prisons will send only one copy of the dossier to the Parole Board
Secretariat and that extra copies for panel members will be provided by
the Board at its own expense. One copy of the dossier should also be
sent by the prison to the Lifer Unit.
7. There are some minor implications for the workload of the Lifer
Manager/Lifer Clerk in checking and numbering dossiers. This should be
offset by a reduction in telephone calls to Lifer Unit about progress on
reviews and the copying of individual reports to Lifer Unit. The aim of the
new scheme is to expedite the review process with a view to releasing
prisoners who represent an acceptable risk to public safety on tariff expiry.
This should result in significant financial savings for the Prison Service.
Advice and information
8. Staff in Lifer Unit will be available to provide advice and guidance to
9. Primary contact for advice and guidance:
Paul Jackson, Lifer Unit, telephone 020 7217 5785
Director of Resettlement
5.1 Types of review
There are a number of different types of review of lifer cases. These
Sentence Planning and Review Boards held at the establishment at
least every 12 months, using LSP 3B forms;
Progress reviews by Lifer Unit, held between 1 and 5 years, using
LSP 3E forms;
Other regular Prison Service procedures such as annual Category A
status reviews conducted by the Category A Review Team and the
Category A Committee;
Parole Board reviews (using LSP 3E forms), the timing of which is
determined by the length of tariff and progress made where lifers are
detained beyond tariff expiry;
Ministerial reviews for whole life tariff lifers, at the 25 year point and
then every 5 years thereafter.
5.2 Sentence Planning and Review Boards
All lifer prisons must hold Sentence Planning and Review Boards at
regular intervals of no more than 12 months, which must:
have reports produced by the Personal Officer and Seconded
Probation Officer before the Board meets;
where necessary, include representatives of all departments in
the establishment who are able to assess the lifer’s progress,
physical and mental health and training. The Personal Officer,
Wing/Unit Manager, seconded Probation Officer and a
Psychologist must attend the initial Board which must be chaired
by the Lifer Manager. It is within establishments discretion to
decide who chairs subsequent Boards which must be attended by
the Personal Officer and seconded Probation Officer plus anyone
else who can make a useful contribution.
undertake a thorough review of the lifer’s progress in achieving
Sentence Planning targets and in reducing risk;
set targets for the next period;
form an integral part of the life sentence planning, review and
invite the lifer to attend for at least part of the Board;
invite the home Probation Officer to attend the Board.
Once completed, the LSP 3B reports must be placed in the LSP and
copied to Lifer Unit within 28 days. Information about the completion of
the LSP 3B is contained in the LSP guidance notes.
5.3 Review of Category A prisoners
5.3.1 In the case of Category A lifers progress reports will not normally be
required by Lifer Unit. Where a Category A lifer is achieving sentence
planning objectives and making good progress in reducing risk they
cannot be transferred from a prison in the High Security estate until
their security category is reduced by the Category A Review Team and
the Category A Committee.
5.3.2 When a Category A lifer is downgraded and there has been a positive
recommendation by the Lifer Manager, Lifer Unit may call for a
progress review at that time comprising a full set of LSP3E reports.
5.3.3 Where a Category A prisoner has made little or no progress and there
have been no positive recommendations by staff to prepare a set of
progress reports for a period of five years Lifer Unit will then call for a
review (the Category A Review Team and the Category A Committee
will continue to review the lifer’s status as a Category A prisoner on an
annual basis). Further information about the review of Category A
lifers is contained in the LSP guidance notes .
5.4 LSP 3E Progress Reports
5.4.1 Throughout the period up to the time of the first Parole Board review,
Lifer Unit will call for LSP 3E Progress Reports on the prisoner
following positive recommendations from the Lifer Manager in the last
LSP 3B report.
The purpose of such reports is to:
enable the prisoner’s progress and Life Sentence Plan to be
provide an opportunity for staff to comment on any progress or
other circumstances which might justify a transfer or a change in
the prisoner’s security category;
provide information focused on measuring any reduction in risk
the lifer has achieved.
Any recommendations for a progressive move must document the
reduction in risk and have the support of the Lifer Manager. Lifer Unit
will not request LSP 3E reports when the LSP 3B does not make a
convincing case for further consideration of a progressive move. If a
recommendation is rejected, the Lifer Unit caseworker will write to the
Lifer Manager informing them of the reasons.
5.4.2 Disclosure of LSP 3E Progress Reports and Prisoner’s Comments
Once the LSP 3E reports have been completed, one copy must be
provided to the lifer along with a blank LSP 3E Lifer’s Comments form.
(The lifer’s comments form does not need to be given in the case
of Parole Board reviews where the prisoner makes their
representations to the Board direct). The prisoner is allowed seven
days to submit comments on those reports and a self-assessment
setting out what progress they believe they have made and what
further work needs to be done. While this is intended to be the lifer’s
personal statement, they cannot be prevented from taking legal advice
before completing it. Nor should they be prevented from submitting
continuation sheets if appropriate. If the lifer’s comments take the form
of a letter from their legal representative this can be included in the
5.4.3 The despatch of an LSP 3E dossier to Lifer Unit must not be delayed
beyond the seven days target date solely because a lifer wants more
than seven days to write their comments, or has not received a reply
from their legal representative. The lifer must always be offered the
opportunity to submit their comments, although they cannot be
compelled to do so.
5.5 First Parole Board Review
5.5.1 Timing of first review
All lifers will normally have a Parole Board review three years before
tariff expiry. However, where a mandatory or discretionary lifer has
been in Category C conditions ,or a second stage female
establishment ,for twelve months or more at the tariff minus three and
a half year point, the review will usually be brought forward by six
months to begin at that point. (See Ministerial Announcement of 9 July
1998 at Appendix 2). To assist in this process Lifer Managers should
contact the relevant caseworker in Lifer Unit about any lifers who
appear to qualify for an earlier review. This should normally be done
soon after the prisoner’s arrival in second stage - Category C
conditions. Lifer Unit staff will then write to the Lifer Manager and to
the individual prisoner concerned to confirm eligibility and to
commission the necessary reports.
5.5.2 Deferral following an escape or abscond
Because the first review date is calculated on the basis of time spent in
custody, and further reviews depend upon progress made, the date of
the next review may be put back following an escape or abscond. The
Governor must report any such incident to Lifer Unit as soon as it
5.5.3 Further custodial sentences
The first review date can also be changed if a lifer receives a further
custodial sentence. In mandatory lifer cases, when a parole date for a
determinate sentence comes after the tariff expiry date, the Parole
Board review date will be deferred to the parole eligibility date of the
new sentence. Where a parole eligibility date for a new determinate
sentence is before tariff expiry, the Parole Board review date will not
be changed. Where a discretionary lifer receives a new determinate
sentence, his next oral hearing will normally take place at the parole
5.6 Parole Board Review Procedures
The stages in the formal Parole Board review of a mandatory lifer (or of
a discretionary or other lifer before the expiry of tariff) are shown in the
REVIEW TIMETABLE FOR MANDATORY LIFER CASES
Preliminary Stages of Review
· Lifer Unit (LU) notifies prison of report completion date 8 weeks prior to start of review
· Prison commissions reports at least 6 weeks prior to start of review proper.
· LU discloses skeleton dossier to prison 15 working days prior to start of review proper.
Start of Review Proper – Disclosure of Complete Dossier
Week First day of month of review complete dossier
review disclosed to prisoner. Prison contacts Parole Board
starts 0 Secretariat (PBS) about Parole Board Members
Week 4 Deadline for receipt of prisoner's representations.
Week 7 PBMI completed.
Week 9 PBMI report returned to prison.
Week 10 Prison discloses PBMI report to prisoner.
Week 11 Prisoner’s comments on PBMI report.
Week 12 Prison sends full dossier to PBS (copied to Lifer Unit).
Week 17 Parole Board (PB) considers case.
Week 18 PB notifies LU of panel decision.
Week 19 Lifer Unit notifies prisoner of ‘knockback’ decision.
Week 26 Lifer Unit notifies prisoner of open and release
Review Process completed
Further details of the Review Process
Lifer Unit will notify prison of dossier disclosure date and deadline
for completion of reports – 2 months prior to start date.
The notification letter should include details of all reports
required for the dossier including any special reports
requested by the Parole Board at a previous review e.g.
forensic psychologist’s report or psychiatrist’s report.
In cases involving offences against children and young persons, the
prison will obtain reports from the Social Services Department
covering the area where the lifer will live if released.
Prison must commission full set of reports (LSP 3E) for the dossier
to be made available to the prisoner by the due disclosure date. In
cases where a report writer has had little or no contact with the
prisoner a note to this effect must be included in the dossier
explaining why a report has not been provided. This note should
be signed by the Lifer Manager.
The reports should be commissioned at least 6 weeks prior
to the dossier disclosure date. The Lifer Manager is
responsible for obtaining all the necessary reports for the
review and for ensuring that a full set is available for
disclosure by the due date.
Lifer Unit must prepare and number the skeleton dossier. (This
should include the Home Office note to the Parole Board, pro-forma
case summary, offence related papers, previous locations,
summary of reports of progress in prison, previous Parole Board
notifications and a copy of Parole Board Member’s interview report
for any previous review). The skeleton dossier should arrive at the
establishment no later than 15 working days before the dossier
The dossier must not be disclosed to the prisoner until a full
reports is available.
Prison must add full set of reports and continue numbering the
dossier. The full dossier must then be disclosed to prisoner on first
day of month of review, having been checked by Lifer Manager (or
other nominated person). It is good practice for the Lifer Manager
or other nominated person to disclose the dossier to the prisoner
Prisoner must be given 28 days from the disclosure date to make
any representations on dossier (or sign a disclaimer) from the
disclosure date. It must be made clear to the prisoner that if the
prison receives no representations or a disclaimer within this
period, it will be assumed that they have no representations and the
review will proceed on that basis. If the prisoner refuses to sign a
disclaimer the Lifer Manager should include a note to this effect in
When a prisoner or legal representative requires an extension of
time to make representations a maximum period of a further 28
days should be granted in the first instance. However, prisoners
should be informed that it is their own best interests to have their
case brought before the Parole Board at the earliest possible
moment. Any subsequent requests for extensions of time for the
submission of representations should be considered on their
individual merits. Significant delay could result in the need to
commission updated reports.
Prison must contact Parole Board Secretariat, as soon as the full
dossier has been disclosed, so that the prisoner’s interview by a
member of the Board can be arranged. (See Parole Directory for
details of who to contact). Prison must then send copy of dossier to
Parole Board member selected to conduct interview.
The Parole Board interviewing member does not need to see the
prisoner’s representations on the content of the dossier to enable
the interview to take place. The interview must not be delayed for
representations to be received.
Lifer Managers should ensure that cases where an extension
for representations has been agreed are not overlooked and
they must be proactive in following up cases. If the prisoner’s
solicitor requests a copy of the dossier this should be
provided. Establishments may charge a fee to cover
administrative costs in line with current Prison Service Policy
– PSO 75000 (Finance) paragraph 12.3 refers.
The Parole Board Secretariat will make arrangements for the
Board member’s interview to take place. Following the interview
the Board member must return their final signed report to
establishment within 14 days. The prisoner is allowed to have
their copy of the dossier with them at the interview.
Prison must disclose the interview report to prisoner by end of
week 10 from start date of review and set 1 week deadline for
Prison must add prisoner’s representations, member’s interview
report and any comments by the prisoner on the member’s
interview report to disclosed dossier and complete numbering of
full dossier before sending one copy of the dossier to Parole
Board Secretariat. (One copy of the full dossier must also be
sent to Lifer Unit).
The Lifer Manager (or other nominated person) must check
the full dossier before it is sent to the Parole Board
Secretariat. The Parole Board will not accept a review dossier
for consideration unless it contains the following:
summary of offence
summary of progress in prison
referral note to the Board
full set of reports
the member’s interview report
prisoner’s representations or a signed disclaimer. ( A
note from the Lifer Manager should be included when
the prisoner has been given 28 days to make
representations but has failed to do so and when a
prisoner refuses to sign a disclaimer).
prisoner’s comments (or a signed disclaimer) on the
contents of the interview report.
It is essential that all sections of the dossier are legible,
correctly ordered and numbered.
Parole Board Secretariat must receive the final dossier within 12
weeks of start date of review and will set date for case to be
considered by panel.
The Parole Board Secretariat will return any incomplete or
otherwise defective dossier to the Lifer Manager for any
missing documents to be added or for appropriate remedial
action to be taken. The Secretariat should inform Lifer Unit
when this happens.
Parole Board will consider the case, and make a written
recommendation to Secretary of State within 18 weeks of start
date of review.
Lifer Unit will consider Board’s recommendation and notify the
prison, prisoner and the Board of the outcome of the review.
When a move to open conditions is recommended, Lifer Unit will
decide in most cases whether the recommendation may be
accepted under delegated authority from Ministers to make such
decisions. Lifer Unit will, however, refer any case to Ministers
where the Unit consider it appropriate to do so and will as a
matter of course refer the small number of cases where it is
proposed to reject the Parole Board recommendation. When
release is recommended all cases are referred to Ministers for a
decision. Release recommendations are referred to the Lord
Chief Justice and the trial judge, if available, for their views in line
with Section 29(1) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997, before
Ministers’ are asked to decide whether to accept the Board’s
5.7 The Parole Board recommendation
The panel may make one of three possible recommendations:
no progress at this stage (remain in closed conditions);
a move to open conditions;
release (mandatory lifers only – the Board has the power to
direct the release of any other type of lifer).
If the Parole Board recommends a transfer to open conditions or
release on licence Lifer Unit will:
obtain any additional professional medical, psychological or other
advice if necessary on the implications of the Parole Board
recommendations, though the normal expectation will be that the
information submitted for the Board to consider will suffice for this
consult the judiciary in cases where release is recommended.
5.8 No further progress (“knockback”)
A recommendation for no progress, also known as a “knock-back”,
does not need to be considered by Ministers and will be notified to the
prisoner, with reasons, by Lifer Unit.
5.9 Move to open conditions
The policy on the transfer of lifers to open conditions is set out in
Chapter 4. Once decision on the Parole Board’s recommendation has
been made the prisoner must be notified of:
the Parole Board’s recommendations and reasons, including their
advice on outstanding risk factors which need to be addressed.
Although each case is considered on its individual merits, the
process leading to the first review of the prisoner’s case in open
conditions normally starts eighteen months after arrival at the
open prison. (See Ministerial Announcement of 9 July 1998 at
the decision and reasons for accepting or rejecting the Parole
Board recommendations and for the timing of the next review.
5.10 Release of mandatory lifers
A recommendation for the release of a mandatory lifer is subject to the
personal approval of Ministers. When this decision is known, the
prisoner must be notified of:
the Parole Board’s recommendations and reasons;
Ministers’ decision and reasons for accepting or rejecting the
Parole Board recommendations (including a decision on the
timing of the next review, if appropriate);
where appropriate, the prisoner’s provisional release date.
5.11 Release of discretionary lifers, HMPs and automatic lifers
The procedures relating to these lifers are described in Chapter 6.
5.12 Access to Parole Board dossiers
5.12.1 Lifer Unit must send a copy of the skeleton dossier to the establishment.
The Lifer Manager must then take the following action:
ensure that the dossier is stored securely;
permit the prisoner’s access to the dossier as frequently as
facilities and resources allow;
make a copy of the dossier available to the prisoner’s
representative on request .
5.12.2 In deciding what access facilities to provide, the Lifer Manager should
bear in mind the possible effect on the prisoner and the establishment
should the contents of the dossier become more widely known.
Particular care should be taken with dossiers containing vivid accounts
of the offence or those relating to sex offences.
5.12.3 The prisoner is entitled to have a copy of the dossier with them during
the interview with the Parole Board member. If the prisoner does not
have their own copy available they should be provided with one by the
5.13 25 year reviews (whole life tariff cases only)
There is no Parole Board review for those lifers for whom it is decided
that the requirements of retribution and deterrence can be satisfied
only by their remaining in prison for the whole of their lives. However,
there will be a Ministerial review when the prisoner has been in
custody for 25 years. The purpose of this review will be solely to
consider whether the whole life tariff should be converted to a tariff of a
determinate period. The review will be confined to the considerations
of retribution and deterrence. Further Ministerial reviews will normally
take place at five yearly intervals thereafter.