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Howard League blog · 7 Aug 2023

Know your rights: An animation on licence and recall

At the Howard League, we run a free, confidential legal advice line for children and young people aged 21 and under in prison. Of the many issues they tell us about, recall is among the most common. Recall can affect anyone who is released from prison on licence.  

We often help young people get released from prison, only for them to be recalled shortly after leaving. Frequently, it is because the young person does not understand their licence conditions, how serious they are, and what it means if they breach.

One caseworker reported that a young person she had worked with did not understand that the ‘good behaviour’ condition of his licence meant that being ten minutes late for a probation appointment risked him being recalled to prison.

The system of recall can be opaque. In some situations, young people have their recall initiated without them being aware. They go to their probation appointment only to be arrested for a period of being ‘unlawfully at large’, despite being unaware of their recall several days earlier.

Often young people do not appreciate the significance of breaching their licence conditions and believe they will be automatically re-released after 28 days in prison. Instead, they receive a standard recall, and can only be released at the end of their sentence, or by the Parole Board.  

The lack of understanding of the process can have significant consequences. To address this, we have created a resource for people leaving prison on licence, and their families, to help them better understand the process. We surveyed 130 children in prisons across England and found that more than 80 per cent preferred to access information in video format. So, we have produced a video explaining what licence conditions are, what can constitute a breach and how recall works.  

We hope the video below will be helpful for anyone wanting to know more about licence and recall. It will be accessible to young people in prisons on their in-cell laptops, and to practitioners and the public, who may be unfamiliar with much of the recall process. 

For more information on the Howard League, our advice line, or on how to become a member, please see below.

Get legal help
If you are 21 and under you can get free legal advice from the Howard League legal team. 

Telephone: 0808 801 0308

Monday and Tuesday, 11am till 1pm
Thursday and Friday, 10am to midday
(except public holidays) 

Our telephone number should be automatically on your pin or approved contacts list. Calls are confidential and free. 

If you cannot get through to us when the lines are open please try again, or you can leave a telephone message. 

If we cannot help you ourselves, we will try to find someone else who can help you. 



The Howard League is the oldest prison reform organisation in the world. We are an independent organisation, funded entirely through donation.  

With the help of our members, we have campaigned over many years to improve conditions within prisons and continue to push for reductions in the numbers going into prison.  

First-hand insights into prison are valuable. This is why membership is free for all prisoners, the family members of prisoners, and prison leavers. 

Becoming a member allows us to hear first-hand experiences, helping us better understand the situation within prisons, and what we should be campaigning to improve.  

Things can change, and you can be instrumental in this.  

If you would like to join the Howard League as a member, please write to:

The Howard League
1 Ardleigh Rd
N1 4HS 


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