Extended sentences provide extra protection to the public. Any offender aged 18 or over may be given an extended sentence if:
- the offender is guilty of a specified violent, sexual or terrorism offence (listed in Schedule 18 of the Sentencing Code)
- the court assesses the offender as a significant risk to the public of committing further specified offences
- a sentence of imprisonment for life is not available or justified, and
- the offender has a previous conviction for an offence listed in Schedule 14 of the Sentencing Code or the current offence justifies an appropriate custodial term of at least four years.
Extended sentences are imposed in certain types of cases where the court has found that the offender is dangerous, and an extended licence period is required to protect the public from risk of serious harm. The judge decides how long the offender should stay in prison (the custodial term) and fixes the extended licence period up to a maximum of eight years.
Two thirds of the way through their custodial term the offender can apply for parole (if parole is refused they can apply again after two years). If not released before, the offender will be automatically released at the end of their custodial term. In either case, following release, they will be subject to the licence where they will remain under supervision until the expiry of the extended period.
The combined total of the custodial term and extension period cannot be more than the maximum sentence for the offence committed.
In 2021, around 1,000 offenders were given an extended sentence, representing two per cent of offenders sentenced to immediate custody. (These statistics are taken from the Ministry of Justice’s criminal justice statistics publications.)