Prison Recall - By Jim Brown ( Probation Officer )

"It's true that there has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of prisoners recalled to prison over recent years. There is no one reason, but rather as a result of a number of changes in the last 10 years or so. Virtually all prisoners are now released automatically at the half way point, whereas for those serving 4 or more years, in the past early release had to be 'earnt' through the parole process. One result of this seems to be a misconception that the sentence is over upon release and keeping to the reporting terms of the licence seems to have become less of a priority. I know this is partly due to the understandable irritation with 'tick box' 5 minute reporting. In my experience it has always been good practice to make sure reporting is felt to be worthwhile, rather than a chore to be enforced. I guess this philosophy marks out old-style officers who come from a social work background from newer colleagues trained during the shift to enforcement and control. It's been a mistake, but there are signs that with a return to discretion, things might improve. I should say that all requests for recall have to be agreed by probation management and endorsed by NOMS in London. Once granted, I would normally feel it was good practice to inform the client in order to allow voluntary presentation at the police station, but not in cases where I considered there to be any risk of harm involved."