Importance of risk, even if there is no breach of conditions
The Board has a broad discretion to cancel parole. As it is for all other parole decisions, the safety and protection of the community is the Board’s paramount consideration when it is considering whether to cancel parole.
While a prisoner is on parole, they are supervised by a parole officer assigned to them by Community Correctional Services (CCS). If the parole officer is concerned about an increase in the risk to the community by the prisoner, they will report their concern to the Board.
In most cases where there are concerns about an increase in risk while on parole, those concerns arise from or are related to breaches of parole conditions (for example, if the prisoner relapses into using the drug ice and has positive drug tests or stops attending drug tests).
However, there can be situations where there are concerns about an increase in risk to the community, even though the prisoner appears to have been complying with his or her parole conditions. (For example: a prisoner on parole for serious violent offences and with a long history of violent offending is present at a shooting incident. Although the police are still investigating the incident and charges have not yet been laid, depending on all of the circumstances, the Board may consider that the risk is too high for the prisoner to remain on parole and may cancel parole pending the outcome of the investigation).
The paramount consideration for the Board in deciding whether to cancel parole is always the safety and protection of the community. The Board will cancel parole if it decides that the risk to the safety and protection of the community has increased to a point where it outweighs the benefit of the prisoner being on parole.
If the Board cancels parole, it will issue a warrant authorising Victoria Police members to arrest the prisoner on parole and return them to prison.
Response to breach of conditions
Breaches of parole conditions can vary in seriousness from missing a supervision appointment to committing a serious crime.
Not every breach of condition will result in the Board cancelling parole. The parole officer will report to the Board on all of the relevant circumstances. In deciding how to respond to a breach, the Board’s paramount consideration is whether the breach indicates an increased risk to the community.
In some cases, if the breach does not indicate a serious increase in risk, the Board may deal with the breach by warning the prisoner or by changing the conditions (for example, by increasing the frequency of drug testing or altering the curfew hours). If a prisoner persistently breaches his or her conditions, the Board may decide to cancel the parole, even if there is no indication of a serious increase in risk. The Board does so on the basis that, if the prisoner is not taking advantage of the supports provided to help them and their persistent breaching is undermining the credibility of the parole system, then the community is deriving no benefit from them remaining on parole.
Detention by police for breach of parole
If a member of Victoria Police arrests a person for an offence and that person is on parole, the police must notify the Board within 12 hours after the arrest and must detain the person until a member of the Board decides whether the circumstances are sufficiently serious to warrant the police continuing to detain the person until the Board can receive a report from Community Correctional Services and can convene to decide whether to cancel parole.
The Board operates a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week model to manage such notifications.
When the Board receives a notification that a prisoner has been detained by Victoria Police, the Board will decide to either detain or cease to detain the prisoner. For prisoners who are detained, the Board will convene to decide whether the prisoner’s parole will be cancelled or not. The Board considers whether to cancel parole either on the same day as it receives the police notification or the next working day.
If the Board is advised that a prisoner has been charged with further offences, the Board may cancel parole immediately rather than awaiting the outcome of the charges in court.
Drugs a common cause for cancellation
Drug use, and particularly the use of methamphetamine (ice), is the most common cause of parole cancellation. The use of drugs presents a significant risk of escalation to more serious offending, either while under the influence of drugs or to fund the purchase of drugs.