WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
April 19 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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New calls for reform of unjust IPP sentences

New calls for reform of unjust IPP sentences

A coalition of mental health organisations, human rights charities and criminal justice organisations has called for reform of IPP sentences, ‘the single greatest stain on our criminal justice system.’  

A joint briefing has been issued by parties including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, The British Psychological Society, Amnesty, Liberty and the Prison Reform Trust. It calls for peers to support 17 amedments to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, presently being debated in parliament.

An IPP, or Imprisonment for Public Protection Order, acts as a pseudo-life sentence. Prisoners must serve an unspecified minimum term until they can demonstrate they are not a threat to the public. Once released, they remain on to indefinite conditional license, which leaves them open to re-imprisonment if breached.

Among proposals in the joint briefing is a provision which would make IPP sentences automatically terminate at a set point. Under this new proposal, if an IPP sentence is not terminated at the three-year point by the Parole Board, it would automatically terminate two years after this provided the individual remained on license.  

The reforms also aim to adopt the recommendations made by the Justice Committee in their previous inquiry into IPP sentences, which calls for those currently serving IPP sentences to be re-sentenced.  

Commenting on the reforms, a spokesperson for UNGRIPP said, ‘the torture of IPP needs to stop!’ The system has been described by Tom Southerden, Amnesty UK’s Legal Programme Director as ‘a living nightmare for those still stuck within it.’  

Dr Joanne Holloway, a Chair at the Royal College of Psychiatrists emphasised thatThe Victims and Prisoners Bill is a chance to make real progress in ending one of the biggest injustices of our criminal justice system.’ It is hoped that the proposed reforms could ensure that individuals do not ‘lose hope while living out sentences that are disproportionate to the crime warranted,’ said Tyrone Steele, Deputy Legal Director at JUSTICE.  He further commented that ‘Righting this wrong would give people their futures back and help ease pressure on our overloaded prison system.’