IPP Prisoners Refused Get Out of Jail Card

IPP sentences were introduced to prevent serious offenders being released when still a danger to the public. They were scrapped in 2012, but nearly 3000 people remain in prison under the legislation, with almost half of these having been recalled to prison after earlier being released.

The Justice Committee said in a report published in September 2022 that IPP sentences were “irredeemably flawed”. The Committee found there was inadequate provision of support services, both inside and outside prison, to allow for the realistic possibility of rehabilitation of IPP prisoners and called in its report for the re-sentencing of them all.

The government has rejected this key recommendation in its response to the committee’s report.

The Justice Committee also found that IPP sentences caused hopelessness and despair, giving rise to higher levels of self-harm and suicide among the IPP cohort of prisoners.

Another key recommendation in the Committee’s report was to reduce the licence period during which released IPP prisoners can be recalled to custody for breach of their conditions, from ten years to five. However, the government has also rejected this recommendation.

The Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill said:

“This is a missed opportunity to right a wrong that has left nearly 3,000 people behind. The Committee recognised that addressing this issue would not be easy – that’s why we recommended that a small, time-limited committee of experts be set up to advise on the re-sentencing exercise.

We are not only disappointed with this government response but genuinely surprised. There is now a growing consensus that a resentencing exercise is the only way to comprehensively address the injustice of IPP sentences and that this can be done without prejudicing public protection.

Our report said this nettle needed to be grasped by all three branches of the State – Government, Parliament and the Judiciary.

But the government has not listened. The nettle has not been grasped and, as a result, these people will remain held in an unsustainable limbo.”

Responding to the news, the campaign group UNGRIPP said:

“We are deeply saddened by this disappointing outcome. Dominic Raab’s utterly tone-deaf response to the clear, consistent and thoughtful inquiry is a failure on all counts. It is brutally disrespectful treatment of people directly affected by IPP who gave testimony with courage and dignity, a breathtakingly ignorant dismissal of professional expertise, and it also undermines public protection, which Raab claims to be committed to. The most dangerous people are people with nothing to lose, and hope for the future is a crucial ingredient in reducing reoffending. Today Dominic Raab has risked destroying that hope – a cowardly act in service of the media, not the public.”

As a firm, we will continue to monitor developments concerning IPP prisoners. We are always available to offer advice and support to those clients still waiting for more positive news and, ultimately, their freedom.

How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0161872999 or via email: law@howardssolciitors.com.

Image credit: “Prison cell…” by Tim Pearce, Los Gatos is marked with CC BY 2.0.