Justice Secretary Michael Gove is planning to allow hundreds of prisoners out of jail on day release in order to take up education courses and jobs in the community. Mr Gove will reverse a decline in numbers, following a string of serious crimes committed by prisoners on temporary release, it was reported on Saturday (14 May).
According to the Telegraph, in a speech to prison governors, Gove said that authorising prisoners' release on temporarylicense (ROTL) was "not a soft option".
"Mistakes in the past led to an understandable tightening up of the rules. When individuals abuse freedoms, regimes will be tightened," he said. "The number of prisoners to benefit from ROTL has fallen by 40% since 2013. So I think now is the time for a change."
One of the "mistakes" Gove referred to is the day release of Michael Wheatley in 2014. The notorious criminal Michael Wheatley – dubbed "Skull Cracker" – committed armed robbery while on the run after absconding from an open prison.
"Although it will take time for confidence in the system to return fully, I believe that it would be wrong to allow a very few high-profile cases, appalling though they were, to distract us from the long-term advantages for society of ROTL," he continued.
"With the help of careful assessment processes, I am confident that our reform-minded governors can identify the most promising candidates for a successful, safe, ROTL."