On the scrapping of IPPs

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On the scrapping of IPPs

The abolition of the Indeterminate Sentence For Public Protection (IPP) has finally been brought into effect. As of today (Monday 3rd December) the relevant part of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will come into force, meaning that the IPP will no longer be available to sentencing courts for offences committed on or after 3rd December 2012.

The new Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling made the following orders and the relevant statutory implement was finalised last month. Within this it is cited that provisions coming into force on the 3rd December 2012 are:

“Schedule 21 (abolition of certain sentences for dangerous offenders and new extended sentences: consequential and transitory provision); and

(t)Schedule 22 (dangerous offenders subject to service law etc).”

Further reference is then made to define this which is:

‘Saving provision in relation to persons convicted before 3rd December 2012

6.  The coming into force of the following provisions of the Act is of no effect in relation to a person convicted before 3rd December 2012—

(a)section 123 (abolition of certain sentences for dangerous offenders); and

(b)the following provisions of Schedule 22—

(i)paragraphs 3 and 4 (abolition of sentence of imprisonment for public protection: dangerous offenders aged 18 or over subject to service law);

(ii)paragraph 6 (abolition of extended sentence for certain violent and sexual offences: dangerous offenders aged 18 or over subject to service law);

(iii)paragraphs 7 and 8 (abolition of sentence of detention for public protection: dangerous offenders aged under 18 subject to service law); and

(iv)paragraph 10 (abolition of extended sentence for certain violent and sexual offences: dangerous offenders aged under 18 subject to service law).’

So what difference does this make for those in prison already serving this sentence? In a nutshell the only real difference will be that the current figures will not continue to rise, relieving some of the pressure on the system.

The main problem with this sentence has always been the under-resourcing and over-subscription for risk reduction opportunities. This is the case for so many serving this sentence. Progression for most involves successful completion of targets set out in their sentence plan and for the majority these targets will include assessment for, and completion of, offending behaviour programmes.

Often the required course is not available in an offender’s current establishment. As a result the offender is often required to implement their own transfer application to another prison that offers the course.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is introducing a number of additional offending behaviour programmes (OBPs), some of which will replace current ones where as others are in addition to those already in place. This will give people more options and in theory help speed up progression and eventually alleviate bottlenecking in the system. One example is the Healthy Relationship Programme (HRP). At present this is only available in a few establishments and has long waiting lists. This course is being replaced with another OBP called Building Better Relationships (BBR) which in turn will also replace The Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme (IDAP) and the Community Domestic Violence Programme (CDVP) both within the prison and community setting. By doing this it will give the parole board more discretion in releasing those of lower risk and allow them to complete a programme in the community which was previously a necessity in custody.  Time scales for this and all the other programmes are unavailable at present.

The most recent statistics are hopeful, however.

As of 30th September 2012 there were 6,020 IPPs of which 2,361 were pre tariff and 3,524 were post tariff (for the remaining 135 the tariff status was not available).

Whilst those figures remain high, the release figures have changed dramatically. Between July 1st 2011 and June 30th 2012 387 IPPs were released, this is a marked rise compared to previous years and is a percentage change of 66% between April – June 2011 and April – June 2012. Other recent statistics relevant to IPPs relate to the numbers awarded category D or ‘open’ conditions, or those who are awaiting transfer to open conditions. These figures have increased dramatically and the latest available figures show there to be 617 IPPs in open conditions. An additional 307 are in closed conditions awaiting transfer to open conditions.

In 2011 between July and December 68 prisoners were also released from closed conditions, this meaning from either category B or C establishments as category B or C status prisoners. Collectively, these latest figures demonstrate that albeit slow, there is more movement in the system and IPPs are starting to progress more effectively through the system.