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Judicial Review Of Decision Not To Move Prisoner To Lower Security Prison Refused

William Beggs, who is serving a life sentence in HMP Edinburgh, sought to challenge the decision of the prison authorities not progress him through the route to parole by moving him to a lower security prison has had his case refused.

William Beggs punishment element of his sentence ended on the 27th of December 2019. Mr Beggs stated in his petition to review the decision that the Scottish Prison Service had failed to seek an up to date Psychological Risk Assessment relating to his application to progress to a less secure prison and instead relied upon an assessment dated in 2015. The SPS contended that the report of 2015 was valid and relevant. This decision was upheld by the prison’s internal complaints committee and it was this decision which was sought to be challenged.

The 2015 report had stated that Mr Beggs was a “high risk of harm to adult male strangers if he were in the community” as he had not engaged in any treatment programmes in prison. The prison sought a fresh report on the 29th of January 2020 and interviews of Mr Beggs were carried out in July 2020. Mr Beggs contended that this presented as an unreasonable delay in obtaining the report and therefore a delay in his possible progression.

In delivering his opinion Lord Harrower stated:

“Conceivably, a public body might, in appropriate circumstances, be held responsible for causing a delay in the making of an application, for example, where it provided incorrect advice on which the applicant justifiably relied. However, no such case has been made out here, the ground of review being confined to an alleged delay in considering or advancing the petitioner’s application for progression made in April 2019.”

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