What We Do

The Parole Board for Scotland is a Tribunal non-departmental public body. The Board, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, is a judicial body which is independent of the Scottish Government and impartial in its duties. Its main aim is to ensure that those prisoners who are no longer regarded as presenting a risk to public safety may serve the remainder of their sentence in the community on licence under the supervision of a supervising officer. It is not the responsibility of the Board to consider questions of punishment and general deterrence. These issues are regarded as discharged, in the case of determinate sentence prisoners, when a case is referred to the Board by the Scottish Ministers and on which the judiciary has deliberated in the case of indeterminate sentence prisoners.

The Board only grants release in cases where the level and nature of risk is deemed to be manageable. This decision is informed by the evaluation of risk assessments.

The type of sentence imposed will determine both at which point in the sentence the Parole Board will consider release and under what procedures the review will take place.

The Board has powers to:

  • recommend the release of determinate sentence prisoners serving four years or more, and the conditions to be attached to the licences of such prisoners;
  • recommend the release of prisoners serving extended sentences serving a combined custodial term and extension period of four years or more, and the conditions to be attached to the licences of such prisoners;
  • direct the release on life licence of prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence;
  • recommend the recall to custody of those serving a sentence of four years or more who have been released on licence in circumstances where such action is considered to be in the public interest.

The Board may direct the Scottish Ministers to re-release any prisoner who has been recalled to custody. The re-release of life prisoners, and extended sentence prisoners recalled to custody during their extension period must be considered by a Tribunal of the Board.

The Board makes a binding recommendation to the Scottish Ministers on any additional conditions to be attached to release licences.

The Board also operates as the appellate body in the case of alleged breaches of Home Detention Curfew (HDC) conditions.