Changes to sentencing

Changes to Sentencing in Northern Ireland
The types of sentences being handed down to offenders in Northern Ireland have changed as part of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008. The changes are part of the government’s continuing commitment to public protection. The system now has stronger powers to deal with dangerous offenders and better protect the public.

What the changes mean
• New sentences for dangerous sexual and violent offenders. A judge may give an Extended Custodial Sentence (ECS) or an Indeterminate Custodial Sentence (ICS) to an offender who is judged to be dangerous and pose a risk of serious harm to the public.  This means a person will be subject to a licence once they have been released from prison.
• Parole Commissioners decide when a person given a public protection sentence will be released from prison. For those on an ICS, they will not be released until they have demonstrated that they no longer pose a risk to the public.
• Parole Commissioners will also make recommendations about the recall of offenders who breach their licence conditions.
• Electronic Monitoring of curfews has been introduced to improve the management of those released on licence, bail and those supervised on community orders. View the Electronic Monitoring Leaflet (PDF)
• MASRAM arrangements have been strengthened and extended and are placed on a statutory footing (known as Public Protection Arrangements Northern Ireland or PPANI).
• Post-release supervision of licences has been extended for people getting a sentence of 12 months or longer. Automatic remission at the half-way point of a custodial sentence has ended.

What does this mean for PBNI?
The Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 means in a more central role for PBNI. We have refined how we deliver our services in courts, community and prisons, including:

• Assessment of risk of serious harm to assist courts in determining “dangerousness” of an offender.
• Supervision of offenders subject to determinate, extended and indeterminate custodial sentences.
• Delivering programmes and interventions in the community.
• Providing reports to the Parole Commissioners to inform decisions about release.
• Providing reports to the Offender Recall Unit when offenders fail to comply with licence conditions
• Strengthened community supervision through the use of electronic monitoring of curfews.
• Strengthening partnership arrangements within Criminal Justice.

To find out more about the changes to sentencing in Northern Ireland, visit the website:

View full list sentences supervised by PBNI
Main Legislation