Indeterminate Sentences abolished from 3 December

The Ministry of Justice has at last set the date for the abolition of Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs), in accordance with the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act of 1 May 2012.  From 3 December 2012, no more IPPs will be handed down.  But abolition, however welcome, is not retrospective:  it doesn’t affect those currently serving IPPs, nor those who may receive IPPs between now and the 3rd of next month, although there seem to be some signs that the processing of applications for release by IPP prisoners who are past their tariffs is being quietly speeded up and improved.

This is the most welcome culmination of years of campaigning against a huge injustice in our penal system, supported by every significant civil rights organisation and expert but passing almost unnoticed in parliament and the media. It has been the subject of numerous posts on this blog and elsewhere and of literally many hundreds of comments on them, mostly from the relatives and other loved ones of IPP prisoners suffering justified fears that they may never be released, despite never having committed any offence serious enough to warrant a sentence of life imprisonment.

The problems facing those now serving IPPs are not by any means resolved, but at least we know that the relevant ministers and their department are aware of them;  and it’s probably unrealistic to suppose that there will be a single dramatic identifiable move to resolve them.  It will now be for each individual IPP prisoner and his family and solicitors to do whatever they can to remedy specific shortcomings in the management of their cases, appealing to their MPs and the Justice Secretary and their prison authorities and the Independent Prison Monitors and the local newspapers as appropriate for support, and doing everything possible to satisfy their parole boards that they have reduced the risk of reoffending on release to acceptably low levels.  It’s bleak and obvious advice but probably the most realistic that can be offered.

Meanwhile it will be of some comfort to know that a major blot on our system of justice is within sight of being removed.  If there’s one thing about it that’s a matter for deep regret, it’s that this long overdue reform owes absolutely nothing to the Labour party in parliament, whose leaders have been consistently ambiguous or even openly hostile to the abolition of this evil and unjust régime.  The LibDems have remained almost entirely silent, and the sole credit for a brave and necessary reform belongs to a handful of Conservative ministers, including notably Ken Clarke and now Chris Grayling, the present Justice Secretary and his immediate predecessor.

(Hat-tip:  Lorna Elliott, once again.)


40 Responses

  1. Martina says:

    So pleased this pathetic ill thought out sentence has been abolished, and not before time.  Courses can still be given outside of prison, so, there should be no excuses now to free all IPP prisoners as soon as their punishment tariff is up.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. Yes, it’s a really welcome event, or will be on 3 December, next month. But I think it needs to be recognised that every case will still be assessed individually, that there will be no automatic releases of post-tariff IPPs even if they have completed and passed the courses prescribed for them, and that there are bound to be some disappointments in cases where the likelihood of re-offending looks strong. (Please also see my response to Mary’s comment here.)

  2. Jeremy Varcoe says:

    This is indeed good news of a long overdue reform. Although many have fought strongly against this injustice, I believe, Brian, that your campaign will have contributed to the stirring of consciences – even if these are mainly Conservative ones! So well done and thank you. Let us now hope that those still held under IPPs will be dealt with expeditiously and humanely.

    Brian writes: Thank you for these kind words, Jeremy. Sadly, I’m afraid you’re right, and that it has been Conservative ministers who have been the driving force behind the reform, and “New Labour” home secretaries who were responsible for introducing this appalling system in the first place — and for failing to abolish it when its fatal flaws became so glaring that they could not be ignored. But much credit also belongs to anonymous officials in the Ministry of Justice who discreetly worked hard to abolish IPPs, and who I suspect are now working to try to improve the management of those currently serving IPP sentences.

  3. Mary says:

    Brian,  you have given credit to the people you think deserve it  but I would like to add you to the list of people who have worked hard in this connection and deserve a whole load of credit.    Thankyou on behalf of the people with IPPS and their friends and relatives – I myself have been one of the people affected by an IPP, as does one of my dear friends and we both appreciate all your efforts.

    Like you say – there are still people being affected by the IPP and will continue to do so for a long time – we must all keep up the pressure to get these people released.  The IPP has, and still is, negatively affecting hundreds of people and somehow the Government have to find a way of releasing people – particularly the ones who were sentenced prior to the change in the Law saying the the minimum tariff should be 2 years or more.  

    Thank you again Brian. 

    Brian writes: Thank you, Mary. In fact the hundreds of people like yourself who have contributed their personal experiences of IPPs to this blog and in other forums have made a much deeper impression on the decision-makers and opinion-formers than anything I have been able to say or write. I agree of course with what you say about the need to speed up the processing of applications for release by those who are still serving IPPs and who are well past their tariffs. But each of these 6,000 + prisoners will inevitably have to be individually assessed and that’s bound to take time, even if the requirement to do courses can be made much more flexible and other delays reduced.

  4. Julie Bate says:

    My son has done 3 and a half years over his tariff and he wont’s come.This is a cruel sentence no only to the prisoner and their loved young children have missed out on 7 years of seeing their brother.They have not done anything wrong but feel they are being punished as well. please let our son out he has served his time and deserves to be home.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Julie. I sympathise with you and your family. Obviously I can’t offer advice on individual cases such as that of your son. I can only repeat what I said in my blog post at
    “he problems facing those now serving IPPs are not by any means resolved, but at least we know that the relevant ministers and their department are aware of them; and it’s probably unrealistic to suppose that there will be a single dramatic identifiable move to resolve them. It will now be for each individual IPP prisoner and his family and solicitors to do whatever they can to remedy specific shortcomings in the management of their cases, appealing to their MPs and the Justice Secretary and their prison authorities and the Independent Prison Monitors and the local newspapers as appropriate for support, and doing everything possible to satisfy their parole boards that they have reduced the risk of reoffending on release to acceptably low levels. It’s bleak and obvious advice but probably the most realistic that can be offered.”

  5. Helen says:

    Again, adding my thanks to you personally Brian, for all your hard work in keeping the injustice of IPP sentences on a front burner. We shall be writing again to our MP, as you advise.  Our son has just received a disappointing – to put it mildly – knock-back at his parole, in spite of being nearly 4 years beyond his 18 months tariff. And his OASys risk of re-offending is assessed as ‘low’.  So goodness knows what else he can do to satisfy the Parole Board.  We really need to lobby for the proposed change in the release test to take affect, I think, before real progress can be made.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. I’m sorry that you have such disappointing news. However, my guess is that individual representations on behalf of your son (as you are doing) are more likely to be fruitful eventually than public lobbying for changes in the system. Have you or has your son sought advice from his prison’s Independent Monitoring Board, I wonder?

  6. al says:

    can you please tell me why a indeterminate sentence was handed down yesterday 

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. Can you please supply some details (in a further comment here or, if preferred, by email to brianlb [at sign] ntlworld [dot] com, without spaces)? If it’s a press report, which newspaper and if possible the full text of the report and a website address if it’s online? Otherwise the place, name of the court, name of the accused and of the judge and as much detail as possible of the offence and words used in sentencing?

    If this was really an IPP handed down after 3 December, it should be possible to get it overturned. It will also be interesting to find out what guidance on the subject has been issued by the MoJ to judges and magistrates.

  7. al says:

    thanks for reply Brian, bbc digital teletext,two brothers from  south cumbria were given indeterminate sentences with 6yrs 18 days minimum terms,if these sentences have been abolished,how and why can a judge still use this punishment? new sentencing guidlines should of been in front of him,clerk of the court,countless barristers and many other judges would of discussed this all week over a cup of tea,how come nobody mentioned it to him? Brian why why why should it mean going to court of appeal,more time more money more mistakes.
    Thank you for all your help you have been great 

    Brian writes: Thank you for this further information, Al. I’m afraid that I now have informal legal advice that the abolition of IPPs with effect from 3 December applies to the date on which the offence or offences were committed, not the date on which sentence is pronounced. So if, as seems certain, the two brothers committed their offences before 3 December, and if their offences were ones for which IPPs were mandatory, the judge would have had no option but to hand down IPPs. If however the judge had discretion to choose between IPPs or ordinary determinate sentences, it would seem highly questionable, even perverse, that he should have chosen to impose sentences of a kind that have been almost universally condemned, including by the present government, and indeed that had been formally abolished before he pronounced them. No doubt the brothers’lawyer will consider whether this might afford grounds for appeal, although on the face of it the judge probably acted legally and I assume that an appeal can only succeed if it’s on a point of law (or new evidence, which is not relevant here). A more promising approach might be to appeal to the Justice Secretary or the Home Secretary to exercise whatever discretion they might have to commute the IPPs to determinate sentences, perhaps after consulting the judge. But I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know whether that would be feasible.

    This is bad news. It means that IPPs will probably continue to be passed for offences committed before 3 December for many months yet. This poisonous snake is dead but it continues to bite.

    PS: It is now established that IPPs may no longer be imposed for offences of which the offender was convicted before 3 December 2012 — please see later comments.

  8. al says:

    fascinating stuff,just when we think someone somewhere has listened, someone has had the courage to get the courts\gov\ lords to take note,another hurdle, another finishing line put in place,for some monday would of been a big stamp on the calender,no more mad sentences handed down only just ones,seems fair,or so we thought,those awaiting trial now will no longer be confident of any predicted sentence,could judges now interpret these latest sentencing guide lines wrongly? where by we might see indeterminate sentences handed down for offences committed before 3rd dec 2012 and in some parts of the country they decide not to,Brian could you tell us what about pre 2008 and 2003 and then 1997\1998? if an offence was committed in between these changes and sentenced now,guessing i would imagine the same as above, the judge can only by law hand down whats in the book,Anymore information would be very helpful ,see just when you thought you could put your feet up and have a rest we’ve got you at it again,
    arise sir Brian and sir ken,mr Grayling the jury is still out on you.

    Later: It Seems someone beat me to awarding the knighthood,I may be a bit late,next one up then.

    Brian writes: Thank you for these. I don’t think there are any outstanding questions demanding further researches, for the time being anyway! Except that I would welcome an authoritative explanation by one of the lawyers who read this blog of whether judges have discretion to opt for or against an IPP for offences committed before 3 December, or whether for some or all such offences an IPP is mandatory.

  9. al says:

    Sentencing and dangerous offenders.
    cps site 
    legal aid sentencing and punishment of offenders.
    act 2012 transitional arrangements
    hope this is helpful 

    Brian writes: Thank you very much for this. You refer to, which says among other things:

    Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 – transitional arrangements

    IPPs/EPPs (sections 225 and 226 (imprisonment for public protection for serious offences) and sections 227 and 228 (extended sentences for certain violent or sexual offences) will not be available where an offender is convicted after 3rd December 2012, regardless of the date on which the offence was committed.

    However, the IPP and EPP sentence will remain available on or after 3rd December 2012 for offenders who were convicted before the 3rd December 2012 but are not sentenced until on or after that date (the new Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) is not available for such offenders).

    The new mandatory life sentence for second time serious offenders will only apply where the second offence is committed after 3rd December 2012. (The first offence may have been committed at any time.)

    The new Extended Determinate Sentence (EDS) (sections 226A and 226B of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 as inserted by section 124 of the 2012 Act) will be available for any offender who is convicted on or after 3rd December 2012, regardless of the date of the offence.

    This confirms that the key cut-off date is conviction before 3 December 2012.

  10. Helen says:

    Hello Brian, and happy Christmas to you!  I wondered if anyone had heard whether or not the Government was going to appeal the European Court of Human Rights order to pay compensation to the 3 IPP prisoners who are unable to progress towards release due to the failure to provide sufficient offending behaviour courses?  I understand the government was given 3 months to appeal, and the ECHR ruling was 18 September 2012.  Many thanks.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Helen, and a happy Christmas to you, too. I’ve seen nothing recently about this. Has anyone else?
    Later: I have now heard on very good authority that the government has appealed. Regrettable, but not surprising, especially considering the potential cost to the taxpayer.

  11. Martina says:

    Hello, Please can you tell me if the Government are still intending to appeal against the 3 IPP prisoners compensation claims, and are they helping prisoners progress towards their release at tariff point yet?  Thank-you.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Martina. I understand that the government has applied for leave to appeal against the compensation judgement — not surprisingly, in view of the potential cost to the taxpayer of accepting it. I’m afraid I have no reliable recent information about any changes in the arrangements for processing post-tariff IPPs’ applications for release. I have heard that there may be some increase in the number of IPPs being transferred to open prisons but I don’t know if that is true. Have you tried putting your questions to your MP with a request that he or she might ask the Justice Secretary for the answers?

  12. Helen says:

    Hello again, Brian.  Further to your response to Martine, 5 January, I feel that until the proposed Releast Test is imposed on the Parole Board, there will not be much movement of post-tariff prisoners, even towards open prisons.  In my experience, and I attended my son’s last hearing just 3 months ago, the panel members are so risk-averse, that unless there is direction from ‘above’, nothing will change. Probably we can start writing to MPs (again), to ask the government, when – if ever – the release test will be enacted as well.

    Brian writes: Thank you again. It’s obviously impossible to generalise on the basis of a single case. I simply don’t know the facts. It’s possible that those in Whitehall who want to speed up IPP releases prefer to do it discreetly, case by case, without stirring up controversy in the way that issuing a blunt instruction to the parole boards would be certain to do. By all means write to your MP again inviting him/her to ask the Justice Minister what action is being taken, now that IPPs have been abolished as being unfair and ineffectual, to reduce the delays in approving the release of IPPs as they pass their tariffs and where there is no specific justification for keeping them in prison (or words to that effect). But I would hesitate before either referring to a new “Release Test” or trying to encourage a general campaign for such a test, since either could easily produce the opposite effect to what we all want. It’s better to do good by stealth than not to do it at all.

  13. Martina says:

    Helen, Thank you.  We will keep on campaigning.

  14. Helen says:

    Thank you Brian and Martina.  I know what you mean about doing this with stealth.  However, patience is wearing thin, and pejrsonally, I don’t think anything will change until the Release Test in LASPO is enacted.  The members of the Parole panels are working to such narrow guidelines with the bar for release set so high, it is virtually impossible to get over it. For example, in our son’s case, the parole decision letter firstly acknowledges the following:-
    1. Overall, he had been a ‘compliant prisoner with enhanced status and no adjudications.’
    2. He had ‘completed accredited work and received positive reports, as well as benefitting from both courses’.
    3. There was ‘no evidence of offence paralleling behaviour’.
    4. He has been assessed using the OASys process as a ‘low risk of re-offending’.
    5. There is no efidence that he is ‘likely to abscond from open conditions.’
    Yet, release was not recommended, as he had ‘resisted the Better Lives Booster programme’, (which he did so as he could go for parole, it having been delayed over a year, and it being 3 years since his last.).  So there is ‘no wholly reliable objective evidence that he has changed’. 
    So, still the emphasis just on course completion, and then more assessments, which would recommend more courses, and on and on.  No-one dare put their head above the parapet, and recommend release.  So our son now has a target date of at least March 2015, for yet another parole, when he will have served nearly 7 years, for an 18 months minimum tariff. I am sory, but this is not just.  It is essential we keep on campaigning, as Martina says. 

  15. Martina says:

    Helen, are you in the facebook IpP campaign,  we are holding an awareness campaign in London on 14rh Feb.  If you go on the site you can find details

  16. Martina says:

    Brian writes: Thank you, Martina. This is a useful and informative website, well worth a visit. But the e-petition to which it links seems to be closed.

  17. Martina says:

    Hi Brian, I will see if there is going to be another petition starting up soon,  Thanks for taking time to check out the web site though.

  18. Martina says:

    Petition of IPP Prisoners Campaign:  

    Not sure if this link can be accessed?

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. Yes, the link seems to work!

  19. Helen says:

    Hello again, Brian.  Back to IPPs, and the apparant reluctance of the government to enact the power to change the release test, (section 128 LASPO Act), and that there are now over 6000 prisoners, of which over 3000 are past their minimum tariff.  Also, even though the release rate has improved, given that there were only 204 releases in the first 6 months of last year, so assuming there is a similar year on year increase, in another 4 years only half of the currently over-tariff prisoners will be released!  I wondered therefore what your thoughts were on maintaining pressure on MPs etc, to ask the government to look again at this issue.  Do you think it would be of any use our writing to Chris Grayling to ask him why he has decided not to use the power given to him by Parliament to change the Parole Board release test? Many thanks. 

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Helen. I shan’t have time to go into this with the thoroughness it deserves (I’m about to go overseas for several weeks, mostly without internet access), but from a quick look at Sec. 128 of LASPO it looks to me as if it will not be enough simply to press the Justice Secretary to exercise his powers under the section: it will be necessary to give an indication of the sort of changes in the test for releasing IPPs that you hope for. You might for example urge the adoption of the kind of wording used by the former Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, in a discussion paper at least a year ago, possibly more (I’m afraid I can’t immediately find the text). I suggest that it will be a waste of time to demand that all IPPs should be automatically released on completion of their tariffs: even Ken Clarke gave a pledge that there would be no automatic releases and that every case would continue to be individually assessed before release could be ordered. I also suggest that instead of writing direct to the Justice Minister, Chris Grayling (which will probably get you a standard reply from an official saying that your views have been noted, you might write instead to your own MP asking him or her to find out from the Justice Secretary when he intends to exercise his power [etc] so as to ensure that in future parole boards will be required to [etc] unless [etc]. An MP will always get a proper reply from a minister to pass on to you, unlike ordinary members of the public, in most cases anyway.

    You will have noticed that any change in the release test under sec. 128 will require approval by affirmative vote of both houses of parliament. A liberalising change such as we would both like to see, even if the hardline Mr Grayling were to propose one, might have difficulty getting approval from the house of commons as at present constituted (it’s unlikely that MPs would be given a free vote and Labour couldn’t be relied on to order its MPs to support a liberalising change, on past form). It’s at least equally likely that any change proposed by Mr Grayling would make it more difficult, not easier, for parole boards to release IPPs.

  20. Helen says:

    Thank you again Brian for your usual thoughtful and balanced response. I agree with you that we have such a hardline government now, and it is highly unlikely they are going to back down.  However, I just feel we have to keep on bringing to the attention of people the injustice of what is happening. A psychologist recently admitted to our son, that it is not for what he did, that keeps him in prison, but for what he might do if released.  This cannot be right. Anyhow, I wish you a safe journey and return from your trip abroad, and an enjoyable and interesting time whilst there. 

  21. Martina says:

    IPP Awareness campaign 14th Feb 2013 meeting at Victoria Station, London at 11.00 a.m

  22. Martina says:

       IPP SENTENCE PLANNING.  Please can anyone sign the realistc and acheivable petition, on the  E-Petitions. web site ?  Thank you.

    Brian writes: It would be helpful if you could give the website address of this petition, so that visitors to the blog may judge for themselves whether they agree with the the terms of the petition and decide whether to sign it.

  23. Helen says:

    Hello Martine,  My husband and I have just signed the petition, (under actual names).  Wish there was more we could do. 

  24. Martina says:

    Hi Helen, there is a Facebook campaign group if you would like to sign up.  Also, you could write to express your concerns with yoyr M.P and Chris Grayling if you’ve not already done so. 

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. I suggest that you quote the website address of this group, since there are at least two Facebook groups dealing with IPPs, and many of us would not wish to join one of them.

  25. Martina says:

    Sorry Helen, after re reading what I just wrote, I’ve repeated myself.  I have had a few responses from my M.P and Grayling, one of them through Twitter, last month through his Questions debate being: 
    Question: Please ask him about the IPP prisoners (indeterminate sentences) clogging up the prisons, with no hope of help or release.
    From @anittina. Martina who has campaigned for the release of those serving indeterminate sentences.
    The Minister’s response: “The abolition of the IPP sentence through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and 
    Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act has not been applied retrospectively: prisoners currently 
    serving IPP sentences will not be released unless the Parole Board authorises it, as now. However, I 
    know there is concern that those currently serving IPP sentences should be supported in 
    progressing through their sentence and reducing their risk. We will be using our best efforts to 
    improve the progression of these prisoners through sentence, including improvements to 
    assessment, sentence planning and delivery, and parole review processes and will continue to 
    monitor outcomes to ensure further improvements in this area. 
    IPP prisoners continue to be included amongst priority groups to receive rehabilitative
    interventions, in order that their risk of harm is addressed and so that they are provides with the 
    opportunity to demonstrate to the Parole Board that they may be effectively managed in the 
    The IPP population has now begun to decrease, whilst the number of releases continues to grow 
    year on year. As at 31 December 2012, the IPP population in custody stood at 5,920, down from 
    6,020 at 30 September 2012. There were 312 IPP releases in the first three quarters of 2012. This 
    is in comparison with 300 releases in 2011, 97 in n 2010 and 53 in 2009.
    It is important to remember that the ECtHR, in its judgment of 18 September 2012 did not find 
    that the IPP sentence in itself was unlawful and the court found that there was no violation of 
    Article 5(4) of the Convention (access to an independent body to review the lawfulness of the 
    detention) as the Parole Board had been capable of ordering release of an IPP prisoner if satisfied
    that the individual was no longer dangerous.”

    Brian writes: Thank you very much for this important information, Martina. Mildly encouraging, but a long way from the kind of radical shakeup and redefinition of the criteria for post-tariff release that Ken Clarke obviously intended to introduce.

  26. Helen says:

    Just a follow-on from Martina’s posting of the 28 March, as our MP has today forwarded to us what looks like the standard response about IPPs from Chris Grayling.  There is an additional paragraph, ‘The future indeterminate prison population is projected within the modelling for the ‘Prison Population Projections for England and Wales’ which were last published in November 2012.  The population of IPP prisoners is projected to decrease with around 3300 IPP prisoners remaining in custoday at the end of 2018, in the central estimate.’   So a heck of a way to go yet then.

  27. Martina says:

    Helen, How slow can they go, 2018?  

  28. Helen says:

    Hello Brian, and sorry to keep on using your Blog to highlight the situation re IPPs, still in prison, and no release date in sight. The latest figures from Chris Grayling, as at March 2013, state that there are now 5,809 IPPs in prison, reduced by the massive amount of 111, since December 2012.  As regards IPPs with tariffs of less than 2 years, the figure for March 2012 was 1255, and by the end of this March, the number had fallen by 149, to 1106. So it has taken one year just to release 149 people, who shouldn’t even have an IPP, since the amendment in 2008.  No-one seems to be taking responsibility for resolving the problem for individual prisoners. On Tuesday, our son will have served 6 years, when he was given an IPP of just 18 months. His next parole isn’t targeted until 2014. He is one of over a thousand men, with short tariffs,  stuck in the System, and in danger of being forgotten.

  29. Drew Ashman says:

    Hi Brian
    We are currently researching a hard hitting documentary about the IPP and how The Government have failed because they repealed the sentence but did nothing retrospectiveliy, thus leaving 13,000 prisoners desperate as funding is withdrawn for offending behavior programmes and the parole board has a 9yr backlog to clear for those already post tariff.
    If you can assist in any way or can offer facts, figures, support, etc please contact me.
    07562 778067
    Also if you know any other contacts we can reach for help and support please feel free to put them in touch
    peace & light
    Drew Ashman
    Director (512 productions)

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. I warmly welcome all publicity for the plight of the thousands of unfortunate IPP prisoners left stranded after the abolition of the IPP regime by an enlightened Tory Justice Secretary and his replacement by a hardliner who seems unaware of the problem.
    I hope that anyone reading this post and this comment who has information or advice to offer will not hesitate to get in touch with you at the telephone numbers or email address supplied in your comment (although I have to say that I know nothing about 512 Productions).
    You will find a considerable volume of information about IPPs in posts on this blog and especially in the hundreds of comments on them, many by relatives or partners of IPP prisoners. The following are some of the most recent (always including the comments appended to most of them): and (relevant documents on the web) (what it says on the tin) — especially including comments (includes several references to other documents, blog posts, etc.)
    There are some invaluable up-to-date facts and figures in the immediately preceding comment by ‘Helen’ at
    I suggest that you might also speak to the relevant experts at Liberty, Justice, the Prison Reform Trust and the Howard League for Penal Reform, if you haven’t already done so. I am drawing the attention of some other individuals more knowledgeable than me on the subject to your request. If you would like to provide some information about 512 Productions (including a website address, if any?) in a further comment here, I’m sure it would encourage others to get in touch with you with information and suggestions.

    PS: I have just received the following discouraging message from 512 Productions:
    “This is an automated response to inform you that this account [presumably as given in Mr Ashman’s comment] has been deactivated.
    If you would like send an email to 5-12 Productions, LLC, please email or visit our website at” nb: This appears to be the website of a company that makes films of weddings.

    UPDATE (MONDAY 24 JUNE): I have now received the following more reassuring message from Mr Drew Ashman <>

    “I will certainly make some adjustments to the blog tomorrow. We are based in Torquay, Devon in England. We are working in conjunction with a prison publication “Inside Time” and with The Prison Reform Trust and hope to have the documentary ready for air in late 2013 or very early 2014. I will post all of the relevant details that you suggested and hope that we can follow each other’s work as we go along.”

    I suggest that anyone thinking of getting in touch with Mr Ashman might usefully wait until he has supplied the further information that he has promised.

  30. Helen says:

    Very interesting, Brian, and thank you for checking this out.  We await further information about 512 productions.  I have recently found that the IPP Families Campaign website is ‘booby-trapped’. My PC virus protection shuts it down, thankfully, whenever I try to access it.  I know the Families Campaign operates through Facebook now, but I have a personal aversion to using Facebook.   

    Brian writes: Thank you for this timely warning, Helen. It’s sad that there are so many knaves and fools (and thieves) infesting the Web these days, at best wasting the time of busy serious people and at worst threatening to mess up our computers, often apparently just for the hell of it, sometimes for personal gain. We’re all compelled to be suspicious, which is a great pity.
    Thank you too for the useful information in your recent comment.
    I have today (24 June) added an important update to my response to Mr Ashman’s comment at

  31. Drew Ashman says:

    Well guys, i am to say the least shocked to read that you believe someone would act as some sort of troll or something on such an important matter as this, for goodness sake people’s lives are at stake here!!!
    Has anyone of you ever sat in a prison cell, never knowing when you may see your loved ones again, if at all?? Have any of you witnessed first hand the trauma on a grown man’s face when his mother lay dying in hospital, whilst he rotted in prison 4 years over his tariff “awaiting attention from an over stacked parole board?? As director of 512 PRODUCTIONS I am very proud to lead my part of this campaign and am more than happy to be working with “Inside Time Newspaper”, The Prison Reform trust, etc to demand changes to this inhumane system.
    My companies activities can be followed on Twitter: @productions512, on Facebook: 512productions and on our blog at
    We are based in Torquay in Devon and consist of 3 partners, one of which is a qualified producer (Myself), an investigative journalist (S.J Berrill) and a qualified researcher (S.Y. Drake). We have a passion in our hearts for this particular matter because we have a family member and a partner that are suffering due to the IPP, both of whom are over tariff.
    My partner’s mother is an ailing older woman that lives out on The Isle of wight and she has stood by her son for all of the past 7 years, she just wants her son to be given a chance at a new start. he has completed every course / offending behavior programme that he has been asked to do he has never had a single “bad mark” against his name during the past 7 years, yet he remains “in limbo” and at the hands of The Parole Board, a board that is currently facing a huge backlog of work to undertake all of the relevant hearings needed to progress those in the system to open conditions then eventually to release. The particular guy in question is 36 years old and received a 4 year sentence with IPP and was told by the sentencing judge this was equivalent to a determinate sentence of 12 years, so following that pattern he should have been released in a maximum of 6 years, yet he remains 3 years over tariff and counting!!!
    I am absolutely horrified by the mere “hint” that anyone, particularly myself should ever be called “Knaves, Fools or even Thieves” by others!! We should all be pulling together to rid the prison system of this injustice, not banding about false and unfounded allegations and suspicions!!
    incidentally; I refer you all to the June issue of “Inside Time”, article on page 7 entitled ‘Calling all IPP’s’ and i echo what Donna says “let’s hear those voices”. I have written to Donna and await her reply. I can assure you that if you want to meet us as a team then we will see you when we march the letters and petition to parliament. 
    I have to smile at just one little part of Helen’s comment re-the personal aversion to Facebook, a great deal of the campaign is going on through Facebook!! I have no understanding of the situation in which Helen claims that her virus protection shuts down when she accesses the IPP Families Campaign website, I can assure you that I have just recently accessed the site and using professional journalist anti-virus “Avast” I have encountered no problems, perhaps I could suggest that Helen updates her software.
    Anyway back to the matter in hand. . . I hope that you guys will get behind this documentary, art exhibition and campaign, people’s lives are at stake and it is costing more than £40,000 per year to keep each one of those IPP’s in prison. There are children suffering, their education affected due to their father’s, Mother’s, sister’s, brother’s, aunt’s and uncle’s serving a prison sentence that has no determination date, often housed miles from home so that their children cannot even get to visit them!!!!
    As I say 512 productions intends to take this campaign with a 3 part series of documentaries just as far as we possibly can and we hope that you will all join us. 
    Please do get in touch: e-mail;, Phone me: 07562 778067, follow us on Twitter or Facebook or if you want to you can request a mailing address to send copies of documents, photos, etc.
    kind regards
    Drew Ashman 
    512 productioons

    Brian writes: Thank you for this clarification. If you read the posts and comments on IPPs in this blog, of which I cited a generous selection in my response to your earlier comment, you will realise that no contributor to this blog needs to be convinced of the seriousness of the problem facing IPP prisoners still in jail, especially those long past their tariffs. That was not the issue that caused me to invite you to provide some information about your organisation and about the nature of the documentary that you plan to make. Before busy people are asked to provide you with material about IPPs — when there is so much already in the public domain, including in this blog — it’s perfectly reasonable to ask you to provide your credentials as evidence that responding to your request will not be a waste of time. In view of what you have now written, I’m satisfied that you’re kosher. But we still don’t know what kind of documentary you plan to make, whether it has been commissioned by the BBC or some other broadcaster, whether it will be for television or radio, what prospects you have of getting it accepted for transmission and if so by whom, who is financing it, whether you have any experience of producing such documentaries and if so what it is, and so on and so forth. This is just the kind of background information one would expect to find on your organisation’s website: but unfortunately the only website that I have managed to find with any connection with “512 Productions” is that of a company which makes films of weddings. Good intentions and strong feelings alone don’t necessarily justify asking people to respond to such an unspecific, generalised appeal for support for such a vaguely described enterprise.

    I take it that you wouldn’t dispute the assertion that the Web is infested by fools, knaves and thieves. You must have led a very sheltered life if you doubt it. But I’m glad to know that you aren’t one of them. It’s now up to others to decide whether and if so how to respond to your appeal. I have already given you enough pointers to a huge amount of material that you are free to mine for your documentary if you care to look at it. Good luck with what should be a most worth-while enterprise.

  32. Helen says:

    Thank you Brian, and hello Drew,  I am, like your partner’s mother, an ailing older women soon to be 70, who is continuing to stand by my only son, exactly today 6 years in prison, with a minimum tariff of just 18 months, and still no release in sight. He has done OB courses to no avail too. So I know how you all feel.  My virus protection is right up to date, thankyou. However, I have just managed to access safely the IPP Families Campaign site, so obviously the temporary blip has been resolved, and honestly, I didn’t make this up.  So, I am becoming paranoid, but that is hardly surprising, in view of the current injustice my family and I are battling against and I am sure you will empathise with that.  It is just that we have written so many letters, to so many people, as well as contributed to so many articles and reports on the IPP situation, that I am becoming worn out by it all. (Have a look at my letter quoted in the PRT’s report ‘Unjust Deserts’) Sorry, but the best of luck with what you are doing, and thank you very much.  Meanwhile, I continue to contribute to Brian’s Blog, because he has done so much in the past to keep the situation regarding IPPs in the public realm, as well as providing sound and sensible advice to us all.  My family and I are truly grateful to him. Lord Ramsbotham deserves a mention here too. He replied just this week to a letter from me, saying he was pursuing the Prisons Minister, with a view to making someone actually responsible for individual Ipp prisoners, instead of being obsessed with general statistics and policies. Lord Ramsbotham assures me that he and his colleagues are doing all they can to resolve this awful situation. 

  33. Drew Ashman says:

    Great post Helen, I am truly sorry to hear that you have found yourself in such a situation. I truly do empathise with you and your families difficult battle and I apologise if we got off on a little bit of a bad foot. I have read the ‘unjust deserts’ and also I now have the latest PRT figures from the Bromley report which does’t paint things in any better light yet. I am personally writing to Mr Grayling and advising him of my company’s documentary productions, to see if he may make a statement or even be prepared to be interviewed on camera. I would very much like to take sight of the letter from Lord ramsbotham (you can e-mail anything like that to me securely: or on my personal email:
    I will fire off a letter to lord Ramsbotham myself in the near future to see if I can get his full take on this terrible human injustice. I hope that you and your family will be prepared to submit statements for this and if your son wishes to write directly to me he can do so at 22, Alpine Road, Torquay, Devon TQ1 1RE. note: this applies to anyone that wishes to write to me or send me information by post.
    take care and keep blogging

  34. martina says:

    Drew Ashman,  I really do hope you can get through to Grayling as none else seems to be able to regarding the IPP’s.  Something needs to be done A.S.A.P to put an end to such injustice.

  35. Drew Ashman says:

    With support from more and more of you gys and enough dedicated input i truly believe that we can make Grayling and co see sense but it’s going to take commitment, lots of effort and hard work. 
    I need as many dedicated supporters, helpers and informants to provide as much up to date informatioon as at all possible. We have today been offered use of a gallery for 3 weeks near to xmas to show art works of ipp prisoners, so that’s the art show under way, now I need more tv dedication.
    just give me the support and get your friends writing and we will make Chris Grayling sit up and beg

  36. martina says:

    You only have to go on the IPP Prisoners group on Facebook to find us all.  We will be more than happy to assist. to find supporting M.P’s. Please share and pass on to sign.

  37. shirley debono,, founder of Free Shaun Lloyd Group says:

    T his IPP is a living hell,, Protest down Cardiff bay outside welsh assembly to demand welsh government to get involved in the issues of ipp,,then im organising protest in London a week later,, haven’t got exact date yet but these protest will be the end of September,, sorry that’s all the info I have at the min but it will be updated on the ipp campaign groups,,   

  38. Drew Ashman says:

    512 Productions Uk fully support these protests and we intend to be at both of them to film / record them to be shown in our documentary IPP _ A Human Injustice to be shown January 2014. We are also contacting the media to ask for maximum coverage

  39. carl king says:

    dear sirs
    my son was given a ipp sentence and his probation officer stated in her report that he was not a dangerous but this judge is known
    to give out ipp like he go to the toilet. so I took my case to the court of appeal and they removed the ipp and the judge said he was
    out of drder to do this,as at that time my son was having a break down but is ok and is doing a degree

    Brian writes: Thank you for this. I’m afraid that this is an example of the muddle there seems to be over IPPs at present. I don’t know how long ago your son was given his IPP but for just over a year now (since 3 December 2012) no new IPPs have been allowed to be awarded and anyway the trial judge can’t overturn a decision by the court of appeal just by criticising it (or by any other means). So it looks as if either way your son is no longer serving an IPP sentence. If that’s correct, I would expect him to be eligible for release on parole or licence after serving half of his (now fixed-length) determinate sentence, which may or may not be the same as his original IPP tariff. But perhaps a legally trained reader would care to comment?