Prison emergency early release: veto guidance for governors

Guidance for prison governors on applying the governor’s veto, during emergency early release, to prevent the early release of any eligible individuals they consider an 'immediate risk' to an individual or a group, if released.

Veto approach

It is important that the process for applying the Governor’s veto is fair, efficient, consistent and evidence based. The Governor’s veto is expected to be deployed appropriately by the SPS in every case, and in the specific terms defined in the SPS operational guidance on emergency release.

The Governor’s veto process has been established to enable GICs to draw upon all relevant and reliable information that is available to them, at the time of an emergency release being conducted, to support their decision on whether or not to apply the veto.

Therefore, decisions on the application of the governor’s veto should be made on the basis of information drawn from the list of information sources set out in the SPS operational guidance. This list includes but is not limited to, the individual’s prison record, prison or police intelligence records, social work records, relevant health information and any other available and relevant information. This approach should also take account of the reliability and recency of the available information in each case.

As set out in the SPS guidance, in the event of the use of these emergency release powers, SPS Headquarters will produce a list of all prisoners in each establishment who are considered statutorily eligible for early release. That list will take account of the statutory exclusions set out in the 1993 Act, and any additional specific release criteria which may have been set out in the regulations which instruct the emergency release process.

GICs will be required to consider the list of individuals for their specific establishment, and decide whether or not to apply their Governor’s veto power in regard to each individual. The specific operational approach undertaken when applying the veto will be detailed within the SPS operational guidance (for example, what agencies will be involved and how cases are to be assessed).

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