What is an Extended Custodial Sentence (ECS)
An ECS is a public protection sentence which can be imposed when an offender has committed certain violent or sexual offences listed in schedule two of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, on or after 15 May 2008, and the court believes that they are likely to commit further similar offences in the future.
The sentence involves a portion of time spent in custody (at least one year) and a period of time under licence conditions (extension period). The judge will set a period of custody depending on the offence and will then add to this a further period in which the offender will be supervised on licence in the community after they have been released.
ECS prisoners will be referred to the Parole Commissioners (PCNI) about six months before the mid point of their sentence. They must show they can be safely released into the community. If PCNI direct release, the prisoner will be on licence for the rest of the custodial term as well as the licence period set by the court.
Where the decision is not to direct release, the case must be referred back to PCNI within two years, if an earlier date has not been recommended. The Department of Justice or Secretary of State must release the prisoner when the custodial part of the sentence has expired. The prisoner will get standard licence conditions as well as bespoke conditions, if required, prescribed by the Department of Justice or Secretary of State. The Department of Justice or Secretary of State will contact PCNI about the bespoke conditions before release.
The licence period can be up to five years for violent offences and eight years for sexual offences. During the licence period, conditions of a licence can be added, varied or cancelled in consultation with the PCNI. An offender is liable for recall to custody if they break their conditions and might need to serve the rest of their sentence in custody.