End indefinite jail terms, say campaigners

Campaigners have called for new legislation to end Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences

The Prison Reform Trust called for an end to the legal uncertainty for 2,223 people serving Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences.

Of those, 187 people are still in prison over a decade after their original tariff expired.

It followed a review of support for the families of those involved which found a lack of communication with prison authorities was reducing chances of rehabilitation.

The report also revealed that in the last year, the number of IPP prisoners being returned to custody after licence recall had increased. It reverses the trend over the previous four years.

This is despite the IPP being abolished in 2012.

According to Ministry of Justice caseload management, more IPP prisoners were returned to custody after licence recall than were released from custody in the past 12 months. In the year from 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019, there were 433 releases of IPP prisoners, but 636 IPP prisoners were returned to custody after licence recall.

There are 1,206 people serving an IPP sentence who are back in prison having been previously released—a 25% increase in only a year.

The report, A Helping Hand: Supporting Families in the Resettlement of People Serving IPPs, concluded families were being ignored rather than being treated as a resource that could help successful rehabilitation and resettlement.

Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “The suffering caused by this disastrous sentence goes on and on. It extends far beyond the people still unjustly held in prison, affecting parents, partners and children, all totally innocent.

“Legislation is needed to finish the job of putting right the injustice done to so many by the IPP sentence. But in the meantime there is scope to do more to support families, reducing their pain and helping them to help their loved ones make a success of life after release.

Due to the general election, the government departments cannot comment directly on the issue.

However, guidance and documents from the Ministry of Justice revealed who those prisoners are. They include offenders who haven’t had a parole hearing or those who the parole board has deemed too high a risk to be sufficiently manageable in the community.

Four prisons which are dedicated to progressing indeterminate prisoners struggling to achieve release.

Thee guidance reveals: “There is a joint HMPPS and Parole Board action plan to help prisoners serving public protection sentences to progress towards release.”