Action on a continuing scandal: thousands still *indefinitely* imprisoned “for public protection”

In 2012, nearly two years ago, parliament passed legislation abolishing the infamous system of Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs), introduced in 2005 by a Labour home secretary, David Blunkett, an indefensible move but obstinately defended by ministers for the rest of the life of the Blair and Brown governments.  It fell to a small-l liberal Tory Justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, to declare the system iniquitous and unjust, and to introduce the legislation that abolished it.  Stubborn and illiberal to the end, the Labour opposition complained that abolition posed a threat to public security.  So much for traditional Labour principles.

Ken_ClarkeAlas!  Abolition has not turned out to be the end of this shabby story.  As Justice Secretary Clarke had recognised that the criteria for deciding whether IPP prisoners should  be released after serving their ‘tariffs’ (the punishment element of their IPP sentences) were grossly tilted against the prisoners – and against basic principles of justice – by effectively requiring IPPs to prove to the parole board that if released they would not re-offend:  an inherently impossible requirement.  As a result, barely 4 to 5 percent of IPPs have been released under these Kafkaesque criteria.  Clarke indicated publicly that he aimed to use the powers granted to him under the abolition law to change the release criteria so that an IPP prisoner should be released on completion of his tariff unless the parole board could show that there were specified grounds for believing that his release would pose a serious risk to public safety – thus reversing the onus of proof to where it belonged.

But before Clarke could follow through on IPP abolition by making this long overdue reform of the release criteria for IPPs still in prison, Clarke was sacked from his position at the Ministry of Justice and replaced by another Tory, this time a hard-line right-winger, Chris Grayling. Grayling, to his shame, has so far shown no interest in exercising his powers under the Act to reform, or even to improve, the release criteria.  As a result thousands of IPPs languish in prison to this day,  with very little hope of release in the foreseeable future, nearly two years after the present coalition government abolished IPPs.

All this has passed with little or no public concern or debate, until now.    Next Tuesday, 4 March 2014, there is to be a public panel discussion, with very distinguished participants, on the subject “The Prisoners Left Behind: Imprisonment for Public Protection After Its Abolition“.  The event is open to all and attendance is free.  It is organised by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law together with Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the former Appeal Court judge, who is to be one of the panel members.  The other speakers will be:

  • Lord Faulks QC, Minister of State, Ministry of Justice
  • Sir David Calvert-Smith, Chairman of the Parole Board
  • Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust
  • Pete Weatherby QC, barrister, Garden Court North Chambers

The Chair will be

  • Sir Sydney Kentridge QC.

(You can Google  all these for their backgrounds and qualifications.)

Details of the time and venue of this important and encouraging event can be found at
and,_4_mar_2014.pdf  (PDF).

The flier for the meeting provides the following damning facts:

More than 5,000 prisoners remain in indefinite detention under sentences  of imprisonment imposed for  public protection (IPP) between 2005 and 2012.  More than half have exceeded their tariff and are waiting to come before the Parole Board.

In the case of 773 prisoners the tariff was two years or less.  But IPP was imposed because until 2008 the sentence was mandatory.  350 of these  prisoners have exceeded their tariff by four years or more.

• Parliament abolished the IPP sentence in 2012. Ken Clarke, the Minister who introduced this amendment, said  that IPPs were ‘unclear, inconsistent and have been used far more than was ever intended…  That is unjust to the people in question and completely inconsistent with the policy of  punishment, reform and  rehabilitation’.

• In 2012 Parliament made specific provision for handling the backlog.  The Justice Secretary [Chris Grayling] was given power to vary the release test.  But he has so far declined to exercise that power, even though at the current rate of release it will be nine years before the backlog is cleared.

In several cases the  ECtHR [European Court of Human Rights] has found that the continued  detention of IPP prisoners was arbitrary and in breach  of their  Convention rights .  There are  more [ECtHR] cases in the pipeline.   [My emphasis – BLB]

It will be interesting to see whether, and if so how, the Justice Ministry participant in the discussion, Lord Faulks, contrives to defend and justify this scandalous and shameful state of affairs.

Important footnote

Thursday 13 March is to be a Day of Action against the continued detention of the thousands of IPPs still behind bars. That evening the BBC 2 television programme Newsnight  is scheduling a segment on this issue. This should be well worth watching.  I’m told that there are also plans for a public meeting of protest on Thursday 13 March about the continued imprisonment of IPPs, to hand in a letter to No. 10 Downing Street and then to move to the Houses of Parliament for meetings with Ministers, peers and MPs.  Details of timing, etc., can be seen by Facebook members (and possibly others) at  The organisers are very welcome to supply details in comments at the end of this post of how to take part in these events: where and when to go and what to do beforehand in preparation.  [Later: there are now several ‘comments’ on this post, below, with information and a warning about this ‘Day of Action’ on IPPs:  please read them before you decide whether to turn up for any particular event.]

*   *   *   *   *

So at last enlightened opinion is beginning to wake up to what is going on, and to the evident failure of the Justice Secretary to do anything about it, even though the power to resolve the problem has been given to him by an Act of Parliament passed under the government of which he is a member.  It’s surely time that Mr Chris Grayling is called to account for a failure which continues to bring such (mostly quite undeserved and wholly unnecessary) misery and fear to so many thousands of people.  Keeping thousands of citizens in prison not as punishment for what they have done but out of fear of what they might conceivably do in the future is the mark of a barbarous society which has lost its moral bearings and forgotten the most elementary principles of justice.  Enough!


25 Responses

  1. Veronica Cooke says:

    Hi Brian,
    As one of the organisers of the IPP Day of Action I need to clarify a few things. The Day of Action was planned and organised before Christmas. We are a group of FB IPP support group members and we wanted to do something to change the awful position many prisoners serving an IPP are facing; many being years over tariff. We all have a family member or friend who is serving an IPP. We heard about the News Night piece only a few days ago and we have not been contacted by them.
    The day of action is a lobby of invited MPs and Lords at 1 pm on 13th March in Westminster Hall. It came to fruition after my fellow organiser’s MP, Julian Huppert MP for Cambridge, agreed to meet with us and provided a room in Westminster Hall. Since then we have grown in number both in terms of invited MPs and Lords but also of our fellow campaigners!
    As stated above our day of action starts at 1pm in Westminster Hall and if you visit the link you have so kindly put in your blog, you will see that there is no march to Downing Street. Someone else must be doing this but it is not us!

    Brian writes: Thank you for this clarification, Veronica. I will pass your details to Newsnight so that they can contact you if they wish.

  2. wendi carson says:

    great article again Brian, my partner is still one of the 5,000 still in limbo not knowing if he will  ever get out im disgusted that Chris Grayling has done nothing for these Ipp,s but once again his head is in the sand. M 

  3. wendi carson says:

    My partner is now 6years over tariff , he was given an 18month sentence and 11 courses down the line still cant get released or Dcat  the Ipp sentence was so ill thought out .

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Wendi. An 18-month IPP tariff was supposed to be the equivalent of a 3-year determinate sentence (which would normally mean automatic release after 18 months). So on the face of it your partner’s continued detention for six years after his tariff is very harsh. I wonder if he is getting advice and support from a good solicitor or from his prison’s Independent Monitoring Board.

  4. shirley debono says:

    These are the concerns people have raised about the Indeterminate Sentence for the Protection of the Public (IPP)
    1.       We ask the Government to urgently review and prioritise the cases of all those sentenced before 2008 and those that would not have got IPP before this date to be reviewed also to have the IPP rescinded from their sentence.
    Apart from considerations of justice this seems likely to reduce the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on this system by some millions of pounds, opening up prison spaces in the penal system and relieve overcrowding pressure, enabling the current prison system to support those sentenced to IPP after 2008. It would allow parole board members to concentrate on these cases.
    2.       For all ISP/IPP over their tariff that have completed all their courses and sentence plan and are no longer perceived to be a danger to the public to be released. We are supported by the Howard League of Penal Reform and Prison Governor’s Association. This would improve immensely the way forward for ISP/IPP prisoners that have not yet served their tariff, to progress through the system and go onto parole at end of tariff having complied with everything asked of them.
    3.       We have concerns for ISP/IPP prisoners who have learning difficulties. Literacy problems or emotional considerations. In these particular cases it may be more beneficial to offer Education, support and some form of counselling rather than extra courses to help progression through the system.
    4.       There are general concerns about the high numbers of recall for ISP/IPP prisoners. Between January 2012 and December 2012, 444 ISP/IPP prisoners were released, of which 122 subsequently recalled on license to prison and 19% of determinate prisoners were recalled during the same period. Therefore this 31% of ISP/IPP prisoners on licence is surely too high a figure. This issue has been raised by Frances Cooke of The Howard League of Penal Reform as well as prisoners and their families.
    5.       There is also much concern about the 99 year licence. We ask the Government to abolish this licence. Furthermore the 10 year licence on release is currently statutory minimum and we urge the Government to change this to a 10 year maximum and introduce a minimum licence. This will mean that for ISP/IPP prisoners released, this can be done on a licence more suited to the offence for which they committed.
    6.       The Government want to save £4million by removing Legal Aid to serving prisoners, which means there will be no Legal representation via Legal Aid for ISP/IPP for re-categorisation or pre-tariff reviews. ISP/IPP are a particularly vulnerable group of prisoners and these will be hard hit by these changes. We urge the Government to think again about this decision.
    7.       Furthermore concerns have been raised about ISP/IPP prisoner’s progression to open conditions and subsequently being recalled to closed conditions. This is of grave concern as somewhere something is failing for these prisoners. It would seem that on a number of occasions they are being recalled for apparently trivial reasons, for which they can expect to face 2/3 years and often more in prison. This is disruptive to their sentence plan and heart breaking to both prisoners and their families.
    This document was written by The Free Shaun Lloyd and All Those Post Tariff Group
    Shirley Debono      
    Leanne Phillips 

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Leanne. I sympathise with all the objectives you set out so clearly, although I think it very unlikely that any Conservative Justice Secretary will agree to change IPP sentences retrospectively to determinate ones or to approve the release of whole categories of IPP prisoners without an assessment of each one individually — something that even Kenneth Clarke, the previous Justice Secretary, promised would be done. But there’s no harm in appealing for what ought to be done, even if not everything that you’re asking for is likely to be agreed.                                                                                 

  5. Shirley debono says:

    Newsnight contacted my A.M for Welsh assembly Jenny Rathbone as they had already heard of of Shaun Lloyd through the campaigning i have done over the years for my son and other IPP prisoners. From the beginning i put my son’s name at the for front of the campaigning as it gave the awareness campaign a personal touch and got the publics attention. jenny Rathbone passed my tel no to news night. This was on the 15th Jan as i was excited and posted that News night had been in touch and said they wanted to do documentary on  the IPP and my son Shaun. as i recall people who are on other IPP campaign groups liked the comment. 21st Jan i posted that Zoe of news night had informed me that she was very busy talking to people about stuff and for us to be patient , again that was liked by people .On 28th of Jan i posted that Caroline Evans of BBC Wales was going to cover the story of the march, and News night was doing documentary,,Jenny saxton, Katherine Gleeeson Suzanne Petite Ruth Fisher and others all of whome are on the other IPP campaign groups like this.. also 28th Jan another post i put up was liked by Jodie Prin Sandra Abbott Ruth Fisher Wendi Carson John J Mcdonagh. All these people are on the other IPP groups. Natalie and Veronica knew about the BBC Wales News and the Newsnight. I myself was working with Natalie to get something to happen in London, as i had just  finished the awareness day outside the Welsh assembly and felt we had to do something big in London,, So yes we were all in it together trying to get something up and running.  I have spoken to Elfyn Llwyd MP and he has assured me that i and others that have been told we are uninvited WILL go to the Meeting in Parliament as we are just as entitled as anyone else. The Free Shaun Lloyd group as with others has worked hard over the years to get public awareness and we deserve our place at the Day of Action. The free Shaun Lloyd group have decided to do a peaceful march on the 13th of March and to take a letter to Downing st to get more public awareness of IPP. Natalie and Veronica have always known this, We see no harm in this and there are members from the other groups that are meeting us there as they feel they want to join in. I hope Veronica and Natalie can see that this is a big day for all to try to change things for the IPP. I want us all to pull together on this day and go as one. I hope they agree, not for me but for all those IPP prisoners that are locked away with no light at the end of tunnel.  

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. Please now also see the comment at

  6. Aimee Fox says:

    Hi Brian my name is Aimee Fox and i would just like to express my Feelings on I.P.P, i have a fiancée who was sentenced in 2006 and given a 18month tariff, he was released in 2012 after doing nearly 7 years he completed all his courses,when he was released he was getting his life back on track as when he was doing his sentence he lost his mum and dad in a space of 2yrs and then a horrific accident happened with his brother whilst on his way to visit so he lost his closest family and when he came home he had no1 but myself,it was very hard for him but he was getting on ok then on the 26th of march last year he was recalled for suspicion to re offend even though nothing whatsoever happened,probation felt it was needed to recall him due to a false accusation of which it was proved to be false.the point i am trying to make is people are getting recalled for “IFS and BUTS” and it is totally unfair my partner was getting his life back on track always attended probation on time,completing courses of which may i add he done off his own back to better himself further,nothing seems to be good enough,if your I.PP you are owned by probation and that’s that! time to do something about this now enough s enough!  Whilst he is 100`s of miles away im suffering with health issues and its tough especially when he hasn’t done anything wrong. If it wasn’t for the Free Shaun Lloyd I.P.P Group i would be lost. Can i just add when my John was home he had a flat of whivh he lost everything due to being recalled, settlement back into the community needs to be addressed further because what’s to say with this I.p.P probation wont have another false Accusation and they recall him again? we need something done because many families are hurting and IPP is causing this hurt. 

  7. Beardy P says:

    Dear Brian, A progress report for you; A while ago I e-mailed explaining why I supported IPP’s in principle, but not necessarily how they are being implemented especially the release criteria.  I also explained why it was the correct choice for my son for the safety of the public.  At that time he had just appeared to have turned a corner in realising his attitude and behaviour were preventing him from being released.  He was certainly not then ready for release and is still not quite there.  However, he has made huge steps in improvement, as a result of intensive counselling at a Theraputic Unit, in this case Blundeston HMP, recently closed and the unit relocated.  Initially he got himself onto this course thinking he could fool everybody, tick boxes and get on the way out. The prison and inmate culture there is completely different to normal prison and allows them to drop false fronts and make change. It took time, a few setbacks and a lot of persuasion from his family, before he actually began to truly participate and commit to counselling and recognising the need for change. Achieving that change has been truamatic and difficult for him, but he is getting there, and has our full support. I feel that all, repeat all, IPP prisoners need this type of course as their conviction was based on the premise that they were unsafe in the community and they need need help to change, not just time spent in limbo doing pointless courses while the prison inmate culture remains unchanging. 
    Now my son actually wishes for release and can see it might be possible in maybe 12-18 months time, he also lives in fear of any recall for the arbitary reasons referred to by your other commentators.  As a “Lifer” on permanent licence he knows that he will live with this fear for the rest of his life, and might only possibly getting a relief from it after 10 clean years outside.  Living with this type of stress does shorten your life…
    The privatisation of the Probation service may bring improvements, if only because of the increase in resources possible due to the inevitable lowering of salaries and removal of expensive pension schemes. It is more likely though, that they will err on the side of caution and recall far more than might be necessary. This might actually become worse for those retained by the in-house Probation service, who we understand will be responsible for Lifers – are these IPP?, and serious crime cases.
    Goods luck to all those campaigning for change, I wish you well.

  8. Natalie Wallace says:

    I think you’ve been misled about the meeting arranged in Westminster on 13 march regarding IPP sentenced prisoners. This meeting was arranged by my MP, Dr Julian Huppert, at my request to discuss the IPP sentence and the problems it causes. The meeting is being held in a private room that has been reserved for myself and the members of the IPP group that I’m the administrator for. We’ve got several invited VIP guests attending this meeting so that we can discuss what can be done about this type of sentencing.

    This meeting will be held behind closed doors as its inevitable some names and personal details of serving prisoners will be discussed. from ‘newsnight’ has contacted me about this meeting and anyone who hasn’t been invited by myself or Dr Huppert will not gain entrance.

    People are being misled into believing this meeting will be open to the public. It’s not. The House of Commons lobby will be open to the public, as usual, for anyone to speak the their MP whenever they like, but on this occasion the room reserved for this meeting will be closed to the public between 1 – 3pm. It’s been reserved by an MP and only invited guests will be admitted with no exceptions.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Natalie. The earlier comment at is relevant.

  9. anthony whitear says:

    probation is corrupt there favorites can get away with murder and people they dont like get breeched or given a bad report for the mine i was called racist yet i had a black girl friend and accused of belonging to right wing organizations wich was lies so for my last offence ov which i am innocent of igot 14 months inside and not will be fairer when probation is privatized

  10. lesley vann says:

    My son has been in prison for nearly 6 years and was rejected by the parole board to even go to a d cat prison.  did get a 5 year IPP sentence after years of being tormented  for 15 years and he eventually snapped and retaliated.  I am not using that for an excuse by any measure of the imagination. prison with him.  He has never been a fighter and does not like violence.  He has now got and has had for awhile one of the perpertraiters with him and he talks and helps him as he got 15 months 7 years ago and still can` t  get out of prison because of his behaviour.  My son still tries to help him and give him advice as he mixes with people who don` t  seem to care.  My Son his in his head as suffered enough for what he did and will quite openly tell you that he has to live with what he did  plays on his mind 24/7.  He has lost a lot of his family whilst he has been away i.e  His Dad,  Grand-ma, Cousin and his sister-in-law.
    I think that the people that should be doing IPPs are the people who run this Country as they do and cause more problems in this Country than anybody else could ever imagine.   They are more  dangerous then any body because they work under cover and get away with it.

  11. Helen says:

    Hello Brian, and thank you again for the opportunity to be able to access all this encouraging information.  I haven’t added anything myself for a while, as just getting through each day is a battle. Our son has now been in prison almost 7 years, having been given an IPP sentence of just 18 months.  Because of all the complaints he has made against his prison’s psychologist department, who just kept recommending further courses, the main one for which he wasn’t even eligible, they had to bring in a private psychologist. She has recommended release, and no clinical need for further ‘treatment’.  His risk can be managed in the community. We have been saying that for years. Just waiting for a parole date now.
    I was particularly interested in the posting by Natalie Wallace. Mr Huppert is our son’s MP, but he has been writing to our MP, Mr Paice, (MP for South Cambridgeshire), because he will live with us on his release temporarily. However, as our son still has property in Cambridge, I suppose technically he is still ‘under’ Mr Huppert.  I wondered therefore if it would be possible for me to link in with Veronica’s group?  Is there a way of contacting Veronica please? Many thanks, and thank you to everyone out there who are still maintaining the pressure. 

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Helen. I am sending a copy of your message, with your email address, to Veronica so that she may be in touch with you about your interest in joining her group.

  12. Bob Knowles says:

    Brian, who would have thought we’d still be writing much the same things now, after the abolition of IPPs on December 3rd 2012, as we were in 2007/8, for example, at the height of the chaos the sentence was then causing? After a long absence from this blog I’m disappointed – but hardly surprised – to see how little things have changed under Chris Grayling compared with how they might have progressed under Ken Clarke. But I’m greatly cheered to see so many people now shaping up for another shot at this unredeemed target.
    On May 1st 2012, when Ken Clarke published his Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill, which led to the December 3rd abolition, there were 6078 ISPs (Indeterminately Sentenced Prisoners – the MoJ’s preferred term) of which 3531 were beyond tariff, many by several years. Now, almost two years later, there are still 3500 ISPs beyond tariff from a total of just under 6000. The parole board continues to release only 4-5% of the total number of ISPs per year, and Justice Secretary Grayling, having failed in his shameful attempt to overturn the ECtHR’s ruling which effectively ended the IPP sentence, seems determined not to use the alternative forms of sentence now open to him to allow a quicker release to large numbers from what Dame Anne Owers aptly described as their ‘Kafkaesque’ conditions of uncertainty. Moreover whereas prisoners tried before 3/12/12 could be sentenced as ISPs, those guilty of similar crimes committed before that date but tried after it could not, and would receive normal determinate sentences. And the decision was not retro-active. Unsurprisingly this has prompted voluble accusations of unfairness from both defence lawyers and various official bodies. But isn’t this par for the course for this wayward law! It had already been patched up under the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (CJIA) after filling the prisons way beyond the MOJ’s and NOMS’s expectations and ability to cope. As if by magic the minimum tariff for an IPP awarded after July 14th that year suddenly became two years, in the MOJ’s panicked attempt to slow the build-up of ISPs.  And just as in 2012, the change was not retro-active. Imagine therefore the anguish and jealousy of those already years beyond their two- or three- month tariffs, awarded before that crucial date. (I wonder if any psychologists have done any serious studies of the effects of this incidental and clumsy injustice perpetrated on already unjustly suffering prisoners.)
    So the problem changes little. But what can be done about it?
    I recommend everybody reading this blog or in need of help to go immediately to the website of Inside Time ( No, I don’t recommend it – I counsel it urgently. There is no publication, no website, no document – particularly those put out by the MoJ, etc – which comes near the quality and contemporaneity of what Inside Time publishes each month. Go to ‘Browse and Search tools’ and you’ll find scores of articles, listed in date order, and by author (often lawyers), on the topic of your choice. On IPPs there’s a whole library of articles. Anybody looking for a general history of IPPs could do worse than start with my own article in the August 2011 edition: ‘The rise, impact and hopeful (sic) death of IPPs‘. At the time I was a member of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of a major London prison, and was often surprised to learn of ISPs who hadn’t made contact with or been contacted by their own IMB. I resigned last year after over 11 years’ service, 2002-13 (ironically covering the life-span of the IPP, 2003-12)!
    One article I recommend strongly is: Appeal your IPP by Sara-Jayne Pritt, solicitor, and Peter Pratt, consultant clinical and forensic psychologist (August 2013 edition). This thoughtful, detailed and lively article is the best analysis I’ve seen of how ISPs and their defence teams and helpers might look for grounds on which to appeal. Here is a rough synopsis:
    (1) IPPs might have been wrongly awarded. e.g. when two of the ‘less serious’ offences (from the original mind-boggling list of 153 offences listed in Schedule 15 of the CJA 2003, on which the IPP was based), were committed over a decade apart, yet were (lawfully) counted together as meriting an IPP without due consideration of whether the perpetrator was really a danger to the public, given over a decade of blameless behaviour on his part. How accurate and fair was the court’s original assessment?
    (2) The Lang judgement, which involved a mixture of legal and psychological considerations, e.g. what was the main reason for the index offence and how dangerous to the public might a recurrence of it actually be? If a weapon was involved, was it actually used to cause harm? Clearly these are hints that some judgements (that the offender is a public danger) and the consequent award of an IPP appear to have been made on a reflex-action basis and might be successfully challenged.
    (3) Concerning sex offenders. Risk can be managed much better than most people believe. e.g. 1. Offending parents, step-parents, family members, etc., usually have low re-offending rates if supervised under probation and Mappa care. So ensure it! 2. Offenders working in schools, care homes, etc. Just keep them out of those places! 3. Internet offenders. Sex Offender Prevention Orders (SEPO) are proving very successful. (1114 in 2006-7; 2658 in 2011-12, with only 80 breached.) Courts have confidence in the police and Mappa arrangements. “Sex offender” is a portmanteau phrase which need not cause the hysteria it does. These people vary, and should and can be managed accordingly. Again, did the court distinguish sufficiently closely?
    The authors say the key thing is that in challenging IPPs, defence teams should appoint an independent psychologist, and even a psychiatrist, to assess their client’s risk of re-offending – which is what an appeal is all about.
    Reading accounts of how this law came into being in 2003, with its 153 crimes (88 sexual, 65 of violence; some ‘serious’, others ‘less serious’ but able to be treated together as equal to a serious one regardless of the time between them), I wasn’t at all surprised to read also of judicial confusion, of judges awarding vastly different tariffs for similar offences and not being allowed to exercise their own discretion. David Blunkett had ensured that judges had to award IPPs for his many designated crimes. The result was much confusion, inconsistency and bad judgements. Which is why it is worth appealing now. In the CJIA 2008 the 153 crimes were cut to 24 broad categories! …and judicial discretion restored.
    Also: see IT for January 2014 for Weddle v Sec of State, by David Wells of Wells Burcombe solicitors. (A similar argument to that of Brett James, Nicholas Wells and Jeffrey Lee, i.e that the Secretary of State had failed to provide the necessary rehabilitative courses for a successful encounter with the parole board. The James, Wells, Lee judgement by the ECtHR proved fatal to the IPP sentence.)
    There are many other articles in Inside Time I would love to highlight as helpful to people fighting this exhausting battle. Inter alia, articles on the parole board and the parole process are always interesting if sometimes contentious, but always helpful and informative.

    Brian writes: Like (I’m sure) numerous other readers of this blog, I’m hugely grateful for this most informative comment by an acknowledged expert on the IPP jungle. The advice in the Inside Time articles quoted, and many others, ought to provide invaluable ammunition to those looking for arguments that might result in the invalidation of an IPP sentence, or even for arguments that might sway a parole board in the direction of approving release. I wonder how many solicitors representing IPP prisoners or their families are aware of the treasure-trove of information and advice described by Bob Knowles in this contribution? Pure gold.

  13. An interesting point made by Adam Mac, a serving prisoner at HMP Wakefield, in his blog 
    “But, now that IPP has been scrapped, the Courts have simply reverted back to their use of discretionary life sentences for many cases. The hurdles faced by prisoners serving discretionary life sentences are no different from those faced by prisoners serving IPP sentences. Both have indeterminate sentences. Both have to receive the approval of the parole board before they can be released. Both have trouble doing that. Both have trouble even getting in front of the parole board for an oral hearing. Both are subject to long periods on probation after release. In fact, the only real differences are that IPP prisoners tend to wait a bit less time between parole hearings and they also have a chance to come off probation after ten years, where discretionary life sentenced prisoners do not.”
    He was sentenced to ‘Detention for Life’ with a minimal time to serve of just under three years and has so far served 12 years, with no immediate hope of down-classification, far less release.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this disturbing report. It’s deeply frustrating that despite parliament’s abolition of IPPs as unjust and ineffective, the old system continues unreformed in its application to those serving IPPs imposed before abolition, and now to find that discretionary life sentences are being imposed to replace IPPs despite their being open to exactly the same fundamental objections.

    Thank you also for drawing attention to Adam Mac’s excellent “Blogging Behind Bars” ( from which this report is taken. Please also read his account of the ways in which the prison administrations, presumably on instructions of the Ministry of Justice under the present Justice Secretary, are acting against all creative and artistic activities for prisoners, for example by confiscating arts materials, banning drama classes, etc., in reckless disregard of the interests of rehabilitation, resorting instead to purely punitive vindictiveness. Details are on Adam’s blog at, including a link to a petition on the subject which I hope all visitors to this blog will sign.

  14. natalie wallace says:

    Dear Brian.
    As one of the two organisers of the IPP campaign meeting being held on 13 march 2014, I’m aware that there are other people who would like to attend as interested members of the public. This is a meeting that we’ve asked Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge to sponsor, but who is allowed to attend and be admitted is entirely up to Ms Veronica Cooke and myself. I feel this meeting should only be attended by those who’s names are on the list compiled by Veronica Cooke and the invited VIP guests. Should anyone else wish to attend this meeting as supporters of the IPP campaign, they are welcome to contact me and ask to be added to the list and I’ll consider their request. Messages can be sent to me via the FaceBook IPP group or the events page. Anyone who contacts neither me or Ms Cooke will be refused admission.

  15. natalie wallace says:

    just had this message from my mp’s office.Dear Natalie,Thanks for your email. Firstly, sorry I missed your call earlier, but I understand you spoke to Marianne in our office about whether you’d need to be there on the 13th. If it’s not possible for you to attend that’s fine, as long as Veronica Cooke is there, as the other main organiser, and has a clear idea of how the session will be run.Secondly, I’m aware that there are other people who would like to attend. From our point of view, this is a meeting that you’ve asked Julian to sponsor, but his involvement in who is allowed to attend is limited. ie, we’ll leave that entirely up to you. Julian’s role is to supply the room and attend the meeting, but he can’t be involved in organisational elements like this.Thanks,SusannahSusannah KerrOffice Manager for Julian Huppert,Member of Parliament for Cambridge

  16. Hi Natalie,  having read through your above email I would be very grateful if you could please consider myself and my mother -law and our MP to attend this Meeting on Thursday March 13th  1pm-3pm. I understand this meeting is a private meeting an invitation only I am asking you to please consider allowing us to attend. Thank you 

  17. natalie wallace says:

    Dear Lieanne
    thanks for your your  message. I wasn’t sure if I’d get any response. 
    how did you come to hear about our meeting? 
    your MP will have to meet you there in the House of Commons lobby. MP’s use a different door to us. there will be a security check as we enter similar to an airport security check. a metal detector and a look in our bags, thats all. no strip search or anything like that so you’ve no need to worry.
    I’ve asked everyone who’s coming to write down anything they want to ask or say because its easy to forget things and once this meeting is over it’ll be too late to ask then.
    if you have a loved one who’s serving an IPP sentence, would you prefer to mention this or keep it confidential? some people don’t mind giving out personal details and others prefer to keep the subject on to IPP’s in general. everyone is different that way.
    there will be about 25 – 30 other people coming to london on 13 march and we’re all coming from different directions. where will you be travelling from and will it be by train or coach? the reason I’m asking this is because we’re meeting in 2 different places. some are meeting at the coach station and some are meeting at the railway station. If you’re from london or know it well you could always meet the rest of us at the H of C and you’ll have no need to walk there with the rest of us. I don’t know london so I’m meeting someone there. I can confirm times with you as soon as everyone says what time they’ll be arriving.
    who is your MP, please, and would he/she be likely to support any proposals that are made as a result of this meeting? 
    I think I’ve covered everything there, but if there’s anything in particular that you need or want to know then don’t hesitate to ask me about it.
    invitations to this meeting have become a necessary thing unfortunately, so will there be just the two of you? I don’t know yet whether anyone else is likely to ask for an invite so I can’t offer you more just yet. please let me know ASAP. thank you. email address to use is –

  18. natalie wallace says:

    sorry –
    I missed a ‘p’ out earlier.

    Brian writes: I have made the correction in the previous comment.

  19. Hi Natalie, Thank you for your reply, I heard of this meeting through Jenny Rathbone (Cardiff AM) some time ago and originally thought it was a pubic meeting, I understand Parliament Protocol dictates strict search that is not an issue, I will also arrange to meet my MP in the lobby thank you for this advice,
    I shall be travelling from South Wales with my mother in law and will  have something prepared in case I get an opportunity to speak. My Partner is currently serving an IPP. My MP is Paul Flynn (Newport) and My mother in law’s MP is Alun Cairns (Barry)and they are both fully updated with this event and the IPP as a subject.
    I am not sure what time we will be arriving but London is not an issue for us and we are both clear of directions but Thank you for your offer of meeting up it would very considerate of you. yes it is just the two of us Look forward to the day and hope it is one of great success. 

  20. natalie wallace says:

    Lieanne, I need to know where to send the invites. If you wish to print them off yourself then let me have your email address please? If you’d prefer me to post them to you then let me have the address. Its not sufficient to just say you’ve had an invite to the IPP meeting, a printed letter with the formal details on must be produced when you arrive. I’ll also contact both the MP’s you mentioned to find out if they have any proposals to raise at the meeting and I’ll ask them to inform Dr Huppert of their intention to attend and he can let them have the details. I don’t see how either Paul Flynn or Alun Cairns could be fully updated with this event as neither myself nor Ms Cooke have released any details yet and as organisers of the meeting its not possible that anyone else could know what they were. 

  21. Brian says:

    I have regretfully removed two recent ‘comments’ posted here by different contributors of earlier comments, for reasons which I am sure will be clear to both their authors.  I have hitherto allowed this blog to be used for exchanges of information between people interested in participating in various ways in the proposed ‘Day of Action’ on IPPs on 13 March in the hope that all concerned would benefit from understanding what is to happen and how to take part, even though this is not really an appropriate function for what should be confined to commenting on the original blog post.  Unfortunately one exchange has deteriorated into an increasingly personal dispute.  This can be pursued, if those concerned so wish, on Facebook or by private emails.  But not here. 


  22. katie says:

    Our son was given an IPP based on a notional term of 5 years, he is ,of course, now one year over his tariff. The length of sentence does not matter, only the IPP matters after all it keeps the prison service machine rolling on, it employs many. The prison staff and probation have no interest at all in reaching positive outcomes for individuals only in preserving their jobs! The IPP gives them the ‘permission’ to do whatever they want! All IPP prisoners will be made to do as many courses as possible to keep the system moving along. They will dream up all kinds of reasons to keep their income trickling in, they need to keep the IPP’s in prison for as long as possible, and if some annoying Parole Board releases them then reasons will be found to recall them! Barbaric, unjust, unfair, harmful, depressing,and traumatic for the prisoner and their family.
    ACTION MUST be taken

  23. Shirley debono says:

    Good news ELfyn Llwyd MP has tabeled an EDM 1254 on the 2nd April.. Elfyn is primary sponser . Please if you are in support of this terrible sentence to be got rid of Please Please write to your MP and ask them to support EDM 1254. 

    Brian writes: Thank you for this very good news. I am putting the full text of Mr Llwyd’s excellent EDM on my blog and urging its readers to press their MPs to sign it.
    Later: Please now see

  24. Mavis Hall Mavis Hall says:

    My son went to court for murder he had a professor backing him for diminished responsability but my son was ashamed what he done kept changing story so the prof threw the towel in my son charged with murder aged 18 his tariff was 13yr hes done over 17 , he was assesed earlier this year for a few hrs by the said prof and last week had a parole hearing were they took this proffesors recomendation my son should go to asecure hospital for between 6 -12 month then back to prison, my son has done every course there is to do e,ducation etc etc he was offered work near to bail hostile , why have they done this he is definetly no risk , this assesment was supposed to be done 17 year ago not after serving 17 year, please help.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Mavis. The mandatory sentence for murder is currently life imprisonment, usually with a minimum term set by the judge, not an IPP, so your son can’t have had an IPP. Life sentences and IPPs have some things in common but in other ways they are very different. With a life sentence such as your son’s there is no implied right to release on licence after the tariff. So it doesn’t seem that there’s any advice that I can usefully offer you: I’m sorry.

  1. 9 April, 2014

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