Potter and Others, Regina (On the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Another: Admn 30 Nov 2001

Four prisoners challenged the refusal to grant them enhanced status under the prison’s Incentives and Earned Privileges Scheme. Each maintained a denial of guilt and so was not eligible for a treatment programme.
Held: The applications failed. There is nothing intrinsically unfair, unreasonable or irrational in requiring a prisoner, as part of the sentence planning process, to apply for and if successful undertake, a course designed to reduce the risks of his re-offending. That is so even if the offender maintains his innocence of the crime or crimes of which he has been convicted and eligibility for the course in question requires the offender to admit guilt. There is nothing intrinsically unfair, unreasonable or irrational in declining to grant such a prisoner enhanced status if he refuses to apply for and/or undertake such a course.
Moses J said: ‘There is, to my mind, nothing unfair or inappropriate in requiring a sex offender, guilty of serious sexual offences as these claimants were, to attend an SOTP, even if he denies he is guilty of those offences. It is a key purpose of imprisonment to encourage constructive behaviour by a prisoner and thereby reduce the risk of his reoffending and increase protection of the public. It is, therefore, fair and rational to encourage participation in a course which may reduce risk of reoffending by means of the schemes for providing an incentive to attend such a course and granting privileges to those who undertake such courses.
Prison management is entitled to operate the IEPS and the court is entitled to proceed on the basis that a prisoner, once convicted, is guilty of the offences that form the subject matter of those convictions. A prisoner is not entitled to rely merely upon his assertions of innocence to excuse himself from confronting his offences. Were it otherwise, the system of rewarding those who are prepared to confront their offences would be undermined. One who denies his offence should not reap the same rewards as one who is prepared to admit and confront them.
It can hardly be supposed that one who at first denies his sexual offences should straightaway be excused attendance on an SOTP. But if he persists in his denial, at what stage is it to be said that the denial is so entrenched that it is inappropriate to expect him to attend such a course? The question whether his denial is a good reason for non-attendance will depend upon the individual circumstances of the particular prisoner.
Those circumstances are considered in the process of sentence planning, as the facts of these particular claimants demonstrate. Sentence planning lies at the heart of the IEPS (see, e.g., paragraph 39, IG74 and 1.9.1 of 4000). Prisoners are encouraged to achieve the targets set in the individual process of sentence planning by the IEPS. It is through that process that that which can be reasonably required of a prisoner is ascertained . .’
Moses J
[2001] EWHC Admin 1041
Prison Act 1952 47(1), Prison Rules 1999 8(1)
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Home Department ex parte Hepworth, Fenton-Palmer and Baldonzy and Regina v Parole Board ex parte Winfield Admn 25-Mar-1997
The applicants for judicial review had each been convicted and sentenced for sex offences. Each maintained his innocence, and now complained that that fact had prejudiced decisions as to early release on parole and as to their categorisation.
Cited by:
CitedCannan v HMP Full Sutton Admn 29-Jun-2009
The prisoner challenged his re-assessment for a status of ‘standard’ within a scheme operated by the prison allocating privileges according to behaviour. He maintained denial of guilt for the offences for which had been convicted and so was unable . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 February 2021; Ref: scu.347289