Liberty on Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs)

The human rights organisation Liberty has authorised me to publish here the text of a letter from a Liberty solicitor in reply to a message from me urging Liberty to support the campaign for the abolition of Indeterminate Sentences.  The Liberty letter read as follows:

Imprisonment for Public Protection

Thank you very much for your email dated 21 September. I read your message with great interest. I note your considerable concerns about the operation of the IPP system generally, a system that was brought in without proper planning, resource allocation or any consideration as to the procedures needed to ensure that IPP prisoners would be reasonably able to apply to be released at the expiry of their tariffs. You will no doubt be aware of the extremely critical but ultimately disappointing judgment of the then House of Lords in the case of James (formerly Walker) Lee and Wells v Secretary of State for Justice [2009] in which the Government was very heavily criticized for its lack of planning and treatment of IPP prisoners whose tariffs had expired.

We have had many letters on this issue from prisoners serving IPPs. I also understand that an IPP campaign has been set up by […..], a solicitor at Emmerson’s Solicitors (52 John St, Sunderland, SR1 1QN). We have been in contact with one of his clients very recently, who is himself serving an IPP.

Liberty has made submissions to the Government about various aspects of the Government’s sentencing policy (including IPP sentences) and all of our submissions to the Government at the various stages of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 are available on our website.  We are currently preparing submissions to the Government as part of its proposed Freedom Bill.

You will not be surprised to hear that we have a considerable number of queries about this issue from people subject to IPP sentences. We will continue to advise them and refer them on to specialist prison law lawyers for specialist legal advice.

Thank you very much for contacting us.

Yours sincerely
LIBERTY [E. N.], Solicitor
6 October 2010

Footnote by Brian: For extensive information about IPPs, advice to IPP prisoners and their families, comments from families of IPP prisoners about their experiences, and factual case histories of people sentenced to IPPs for quite minor offences attracting very short tariffs but who are still in prison years after srving their tariffs, please see the following (including extensive comments appended to some of them):