Are you a prisoner (or related to a prisoner) sentenced to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, with the minimum term to be determined either as an adult or a young offender?

Are you aware you may be able to apply for a reduction in your tariff based on exemplary behaviour?

If this applies to you then it may be worth taking a few moments to read this blog and see how Lawtons Criminal Law Solicitors are able to assist you in this matter or any other prison law matter.

There have been so many changes that it can be confusing whether this rule applies to you.

To give you an example of the confusion it has caused, I phoned the Court of Appeal and asked for the case worker who deals in tariff (term) reductions. I couldn’t quite believe it when I was asked if my query relates to electricity!

So, how does this affect you and are you eligible I hear you ask!

If you are an adult prisoner sentenced to a mandatory life imprisonment before the 18th December 2003, did you know that the Schedule 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 allows a reduction in the length of the minimum term to take account of exceptional progress made by you. Your tariff could be reduced by up to 2 years. An application should not realistically be made until you are near the end of the minimum term so that you can display exceptional progress for a large period of your custodial term.

This is where one size does not fit all, in respect of all prisoners sentenced to such a sentence.

If you are sentenced after 18th December 2003 the minimum term to be served for punishment and tariffs would have been set by the Trial Judge. There is no provision for you to make an application to the High Court for a reduction in your tariff.

The only exception to this rule is those who are sentenced to detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. The arrangement to review all HMP detainees of their tariff has now been extended to cover all tariffs regardless of their date of sentence. If you are a serving HMP detainee and you have served at least half of your present tariff then you are entitled to have your case reviewed and if you meet the criteria your case can be forwarded to the High Court so that your tariff can be considered by a High Court Judge.

The whole purpose of this application is to determine if your original tariff is still appropriate in the light of the extemporary progress you may have made whilst being in custody. Please note the review is not automatic and you must apply to have your tariff reviewed.

Lawtons Prison Law Solicitors Can Assist You With This Process

Each case will be assessed on its own merit and if your application meets the criteria then your case will be referred to the High Court for consideration. If your case is referred to the High Court the Judge will recommend if the tariff should be reduced and indicate how much reduction should take place on your sentence and this will reflect in your new tariff expiry date.

Remember this application is based purely on exceptional progress in prison which covers a multiple of areas such as:

  • A significant change in your maturity since the offence was committed
  • How you have continued to develop in custody
  • Offending behaviour
  • Offence related coursework which has resulted in a substantial reduction in areas of risk

They would also look at the good work you have completed which benefits others such as:

  • Helping vulnerable prisoners
  • Helping disabled people
  • Raising money for charities
  • Acting as a listener, or
  • Any trusted privileged positions you have sustained over lengthy period

It is vital you receive advice and assistance during your sentence to matters relating to sentence progression so you are on the right path and are able to give yourself the best possible chance.

Our Prison Law Department at Lawtons will fight to protect your rights and we will ensure we do everything to advise you of those rights assisting you throughout your custodial term.

We are experienced prison lawyers and only have your interests at heart; contact Collette Blake, Andrea Storey or Kelly Blake at Lawtons Solicitors.

If you were sentenced after 18th December 2003 then unfortunately there is recent case law which determines only those sentenced pre this date are eligible for this scheme.

Remember that the application for a reduction in your sentence must be on the basis that the work you have completed is exceptional and not just good. It has already been tested in the case of R v Jackson in 2011 the Secretary of State has never issued a definition of what constitutes good progress in prison and therefore each case is considered on an individual basis and exceptional progress has to stand our clearly from the good progress in prison that is expected of all mandatory life sentenced prisoners. This case determines that Mr Jackson’s progress was described as very good but not exceptional in order for you to present your case as being an exceptional progressive prisoner then contact the exceptionally experienced prison team to advise you as to how to reach the criteria.

Section 103 of the Children Act 1906 introduced the HMP sentence to reflect the reduced responsibility and the special needs of those committing murder as a child or a young person.

Previously HMP detainees could submit an application asking the Secretary of State to review their tariff at any time. This was abolished in 1999 when the European Courts of Human Rights ruled that the Government Ministers should not have any involvement in the tariff setting.