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I thought you might enjoy catching up with Jim (Blog 13/08/2020: Leaving Jail today) and his further adventures involving his new side kick Dave.

Well, so far, so good and the story to date: Jim has accommodation, Universal Credit (UC) is supporting him, he has some good employment prospects on the near horizon and is still at LandWorks. He has just under 15 months left to serve on a licence in the community and is looking good.

But he missed a Probation appointment (a Covid-19 mix up) and prison rumours, stories and fake news would suggest that he will now be recalled to jail due to non-compliance.

A recall is not something that is publicly talked about very much, but a fear that is ever-present for all those on release from HMP.

Crazy rumours abound around this rather secretive means of removing someone’s liberty and taking them back to jail. “Just look at your probation officer in the wrong way” and it could be a short sharp 28-day recall or the standard recall, which means you serve the remainder of your sentence locked inside.

There are about 9,200 recalls in prison at any one time, approx. 12% of the prison population. And numbers have rocketed up over the last 20 years.

The recall is at a probation officers and their senior managers discretion.

But this is not a court decision. And only challengeable once back inside, via the Parole Board.

Also (perhaps surprisingly) recalls are not counted in the statutory reoffending figures!

I have to say, my experience is that probation officers take this action very seriously and contrary to the offender rumour mill this process is taken with the upmost care. Jim is actually doing well, remains low risk and will not be recalled.

The failure here is the system, not with individual officers. Recalls should be overseen nationally by a methodical, consistent, and fair process.

Now, let me introduce Dave… Jim’s old pad mate (cell mate), they were ‘two-ed’ up in HMP Exeter a while ago and the old boy network has reunited them.

Dave (not at LandWorks, but desperately needs post-release support) has also missed a few probation appointments and I suspect he tried to use Covid-19 slightly to his advantage. Dave’s not done quite so well as Jim and accommodation is a problem (none), he’s no bank account so UC payments go to a nominated ‘friends’ account (it’s true).

He’s often cold, wet, hungry and broke.

So, he nicks a few sandwiches and is rightly called to account by his probation officer and issued a warning.

Then he’s picked up by the police, no-fixed-abode and found with other stolen goods.

The police are pushing very hard for a recall, ‘to protect the public’… it’s granted, and Dave will now serve the remaining 6 mths of his sentence, primarily for non-compliance with his licence order.

A cynic could argue that’s an easy result for the police… Dave’s off the streets, limited reporting, no CPS, no court case and no defence or representation.

I personally worry that recalls are kept marginally ‘under the radar’ with little research being done and hardly any information in the public domain.

It seems to me that the offenders most likely to be recalled are the very individuals who needed most support in the first place, and not slightly hidden away from scrutiny


26th November 2020