About the OLR
The Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) is a unique sentence. It is made up of a minimum period of time of imprisonment – called the punishment part – and lifelong risk management. The OLR is a true lifelong sentence designed to protect the public from the risk of serious harm. On this page you can find out more about the process of an OLR.
After conviction, if a judge in the high court considers that an individual may meet the risk criteria defined in Section 210E of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, they may issue a Risk Assessment Order (RAO).
The Risk Assessment Order means the court appoints a Risk Assessor to prepare a Risk Assessment Report (RAR). Only Risk Assessors who have been accredited by the RMA can prepare the RAR.
In completing the RAR, the assessor must have regard to the RMA Standards and Guidelines for Risk Assessment. The RAR contains details including an analysis of the individuals’ past and current offending – this is examined by nature, pattern, seriousness and likelihood. The RAR indicates the level of risk the individual is assessed to pose to the public – high, medium, or low. The assessor can use allegation information in their report, but must outline if this had influence on their risk rating. The RAR will support the judge in making an informed decision on whether an OLR should be imposed.
Interested in becoming an Accredited Assessor? We’re currently seeking experienced, confident risk assessors from psychology and psychiatry to become Accredited. Applications will only be accepted between 2 – 15 October 2023. For more information on the role and how to apply please click here.
Risk Assessment Orders
The number of individuals subject to an OLR may reduce as well as increase due to individuals passing away or successful appeals of the sentence. Please note that the RAO does not necessarily correlate to an OLR in the same year, for example, an individuals Risk Assessment Report could be completed in 2013 and the OLR is imposed in 2014.
What is the OLR?
The OLR is an indeterminate sentence, this means there is no fixed date for release from prison. Even when the punishment part is served, it is up to the Parole Board to decide on release. When an OLR is imposed, the individual will be subject to a Risk Management Plan (RMP) approved by the RMA for the rest of their life. This means they will always be monitored and managed, whether in custody, the community, secure care or a mental health facility.
The sentence is made up of a punishment part and lifelong risk management, it is designed to reduce the risk of serious harm to the public. An OLR may be imposed where a judge in the high court thinks that the individual may present a risk of serious harm. With the OLR, it is possible that the index offence – the crime the individual has been convicted of – may not be a serious violent or sexual offence, but part of a pattern which demonstrates serious harm.
The Parole Board for Scotland are responsible for directing the release of an individual subject to an OLR. They will only direct release when they are satisfied that imprisonment is no longer necessary for the protection of the public. This means that when an individual with an OLR is released, the Parole Board has concluded that the individual can be safely managed in the community.
The OLR consists of two parts: the punishment part and lifelong risk management. When an individual is sentenced to an OLR, the judge will calculate the punishment part. This is the minimum time the individual must spend in prison. Once the punishment part of the sentence has passed, the individual becomes eligible to apply for parole. If they are released into the community, the individual remains subject to a risk management plan.
Average length of punishment part is measured in number of months. Individuals subject to an OLR may be convicted of further offences while serving the sentence, and remain in custody serving an additional punishment part. This means they may not be eligible to apply for parole, despite the punishment part of the OLR sentence having been served. Individuals released into the community includes individuals who were released on Compassionate Release.
An individual with an OLR is subject to a Risk Management Plan for the rest of their life. This means that the individual is monitored whether in custody or the community.
The RMP is prepared by the ‘lead authority’ responsible for the individual. The lead authority may be the Scottish Prison Service on behalf of Scottish Ministers, NHS or social work services. All RMPs must be approved by the RMA to make sure they meet our Standards and Guidelines for Risk Management.
An RMP provides: an assessment of the individuals risk, measures taken to manage and minimise that risk, and how those measures are to be coordinated. There are three types of RMP a lead authority might submit to the RMA for approval:
- An INITIAL RMP when an OLR has been imposed
- An AMENDED RMP when there is actual or likely significant change
- A REVISED RMP in response to guidance or direction from the RMA.
It’s important that all strategies within the approved RMP to manage the individual are implemented by the lead authority. This is to support both public safety and the individual in progressing with their sentence. The lead authority keeps records of how they are implementing the plan and submit these annually to RMA for evaluation. These are Annual Implementation Reports (AIR).
Risk Management Plans and Annual Implementation Reports
Please note: we began to collect more detailed data in relation to number of initial, amended and revised Risk Management Plans from 2016 onwards.
When an individual with an OLR has served their punishment part, they become eligible to apply for parole. This does not mean they will be released once their punishment part expires.
The Parole Board for Scotland are responsible for directing the release of an individual subject to an OLR. They will only direct this when they are satisfied that imprisonment is no longer necessary for the protection of the public.
For individuals with an OLR, it is often the case that they must evidence progression through the custodial estate. This means progressing from a closed condition prison to open estate, such as Castle Huntly. This might include time in National Top End, a facility part of a closed prison that provides access to work placements and escorted leave.
The OLR sentence is to protect the public. It aims to ensure that individuals do not present an unmanageable risk if they are in the community.
The location of individuals with an OLR can change. While they may progress into open estate, they can also be recalled to closed conditions.