Mia contacted our helpline for some advice about travelling abroad whilst on licence.
Mia told us that she was currently on licence for two years having been released from prison several months previously. Since her release from prison, Mia had been regularly doing charity work and had secured a place at university.
She explained that her brother had recently become engaged and was due to get married in India in the summer. He had been a huge support to Mia during her trial and she was desperate to attend his wedding not only to celebrate with him but to try to rebuild relationships with other members of her family who had been affected by her conviction and time in prison.
Mia told us that she had developed a good relationship with her Probation Officer, sticking rigidly to all restrictions and requirements placed on her. So she was surprised when having discussed informally the prospect of travelling to India, her Probation Officer had given her a categorical refusal. Mia asked us whether she should accept this decision or whether it would be worth her making a formal application.
We explained to Mia that one of the standard conditions on a licence was:-
Not to travel outside the United Kingdom unless otherwise directed by your supervising officer (permission for which will be given in exceptional circumstances only) or for the purpose of complying with immigration/deportation.
As there was guidance as to what constituted ‘exceptional circumstances’, we believed it would be worth Mia making an application in writing.
We provided Mia with details of the criteria that Probation Officers should consider when taking into account requests for travel abroad (of which there are 6) and explained to Mia that her application letter should address each of these separate points. The guidance states that:
If the answers to questions 1 to 5 are “no” and question 6 is “yes”, then it can be considered that an offender has met the requirements to qualify for temporary travel overseas.
We set out to Mia the process of appealing a decision if her application were to be declined.
Mia took our advice and addressed each of the points set out in the guidance.
A couple of weeks later, Mia got back in touch to let us know that her application had been approved and that she would be travelling to India in the summer.
I wrote my letter and addressed all the points that Unlock told me I should. I couldn’t believe it when I was given permission to go. It’s really important to me that I’m able to be there to support my brother as he’s supported me in the past. Thanks to Unlock, I’ll be able to do that.
This case shows the importance of having a clear understanding of the criteria that Probation Officer’s should consider when taking into account requests to travel abroad. It also demonstrates how requests in writing can often be harder for a Probation Officer to refuse.
There’s information on travelling abroad whilst on licence on our self-help information site.
Notes about this case study
This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.
Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.