What are the New HDC Rules? New Early Release Scheme
New HDC Rules and Early Release Scheme
What are the new HDC rules? The UK government has released information on a proposed new HDC Rules and Early Release Scheme.
In an effort to tackle the issue of prison overcrowding, the UK Government has announced a new early release scheme that expands the existing Home Detention Curfew (HDC) regulations. This guide breaks down what the new rules are, how they will affect prisoners, and the implications for the UK justice system.
The New HDC Rules Explained
The updated HDC scheme allows prisoners to be released up to six months before their official release date. This means the period during which prisoners can spend at home, under electronic surveillance, will increase from 135 to 180 days. Officials anticipate that this change will liberate between 400 and 600 prison spaces.
Before this reform can be enacted, a change in the existing law is necessary. A draft Statutory Instrument outlining these changes was laid out in Parliament early in February and is set to become law on June 6.
Early Release Scheme, New HDC Rules - Upto 6 Months on Tag
The Government’s Perspective
In a letter to the House of Commons Justice Committee, Prisons Minister Damian Hinds indicated that the primary goal of this change is to advance rehabilitation efforts. An impact assessment from the Ministry of Justice adds that the move is likely to alleviate crowding and enhance prison conditions.
Eligibility Criteria and Exclusions
While the scheme will expand, it’s important to note that not everyone will be eligible. The new rules will exclude individuals convicted of specific offences related to domestic abuse, such as stalking and harassment. Those convicted of sexual offences or serving sentences longer than four years are already ineligible.
Impact and Controversies
The Prison Governors’ Association has issued a warning against overcrowding existing prisons, while the Government forecasts an increase in the number of prisoners in England and Wales. Critics of the scheme include those who feel that it could be a ‘soft on crime’ approach, echoing sentiments from years past when the HDC scheme was first introduced.
The HDC scheme has undergone multiple changes since its inception in 1999. Initially allowing a maximum of 60 days at home, it was extended to 90 days in 2002 and 135 days in 2003. Its most recent expansion to 180 days revives a proposal initially put forth in early 2020 but withdrawn due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of prisoners is projected to increase by 5,000 a year over the next two years due to new laws affecting sentence lengths. As such, the impact of the new HDC rules will be closely watched as they come into effect.
The new HDC rules represent a significant shift in how the UK deals with prison overcrowding and rehabilitation. While the changes have been met with both support and criticism, what remains clear is that they will have a broad-reaching impact on the UK’s prison system.