APPEAL joins calls to address the brutal injustice of indeterminate IPP sentences

 

APPEAL is part of a broad coalition of experts, civil society and community organisations opposed to the cruel, inhumane and degrading Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences – a form of interminable custodial sentence.

 

IPPs have a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of people and their families. Some have been imprisoned for minor offences yet can detained for up to 18 years.

 

The Justice Secretary must implement the recommendations of the House of Commons Justice Select Committee in its September 2022 report and instigate a re-sentencing exercise for all those still suffering under an IPP sentence.

 

The below letter, signed by APPEAL and all coalition members, was hand delivered to the Ministry of Justice Thursday 11 July 2024:

 

Dear Secretary of State,

 

Congratulations on your appointment, which comes at a critical point for prisons and the wider justice system.

 

This joint letter has been endorsed by a broad coalition of experts, civil society and community organisations, leading activists and campaigners, opposed to the cruel, inhumane and degrading Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences, which have so far claimed the lives of 90 people serving IPP sentences in prison and a further 31 people that we know of in the community.

 

As leaders of criminal justice charities, trade unions, lawyers and campaigners, we wish to express our serious concerns about the ongoing scandal of IPP sentences and the intolerable position in which successive governments have placed prison and probation staff who manage those still serving these sentences, both in custody and in the community.

 

Working at pace to resolve the IPP scandal is the right thing to do. It would also make a tangible, politically palatable, contribution to addressing the urgent population pressures facing the prison system.

 

Given the urgency of the situation, we ask that the incoming Government undertakes to do the following, within the first 100 days of the new Parliament:

 

  1. Bring all the IPP-related provisions in the Victims and Prisoners Act 2024 into
  2. Publish the first annual report on IPP, which was due to be published by the end of March 2024.
  3. Make a ministerial statement to Parliament, setting out the new Government’s plans and timetable to address all the outstanding challenges affecting those under an IPP
  4. Commit to set up an expert committee, in line with the recommendation of the former Justice Select Committee, to advise on the practicalities of a resentencing exercise, with the aim of beginning the exercise within 18 months.

 

IPP sentences were rightly abolished over a decade ago, on the grounds that they were unfair, unworkable and unjust in practice. Despite this, close to 2,800 people are still serving these sentences in prison, with more than 200 others held in secure hospitals. Even more

 

are living in the community under constant fear of recall for minor infractions, or even for mere accusations of wrongdoing. Most people serving IPP sentences and their families have lost all trust in the justice system.

 

This hopelessness has had a devastating impact on the mental health of people serving IPP sentences, both in prison and in the community, as can be seen by the three Prevention of Future Deaths Reports issued by coroners on suicides published in 2024. It is shocking, but not surprising, that coroners are now highlighting IPP sentences as a matter of concern relating to these suicides. One described the “inhumane and indefensible” treatment of someone serving an IPP sentence 15 years over tariff, and warned that “if action is not taken to review all prisoners sentenced to IPP then there is a risk of further deaths occurring”. Another coroner stated: “The jury was clear that the fact of the IPP caused his state of mind and so caused his death.” In June, news came that one person serving an IPP sentence, who was 12 years over tariff, had set himself alight. Another had begun his second hunger strike. The impact on the health and well-being of prison and probation staff looking after those subjected to IPP sentences is also profound.

 

The most obvious practical way to resolve the IPP scandal is through a resentencing exercise, overseen by a panel of experts. Indeed, in its September 2022 report, the House of Commons Justice Select Committee stated that resentencing is the “only way to address the unique injustice caused by the IPP sentence and its subsequent administration”.

 

IPP sentences are a problem created by Parliament, which can only be solved by Parliament, including through new legislation. We urge the new Government to honour its commitment, made in opposition, to “work at pace” to resolve this injustice.

 

We also agree with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Dr Alice Jill Edwards, that IPP sentences are human right violations that often amount to psychological torture. If this injustice is not resolved decisively, we could see the Government challenged in court for their failure to act appropriately.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Yours faithfully,

UNGRIPP

 

Shirley Debono

IPP Committee in Action

 

Andrea Coomber KC

Chief Executive, The Howard League for Penal Reform

 

Richard Garside

Director, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

 

Pia Sinha

Chief Executive, Prison Reform Trust

 

Steve Gillan

General Secretary, Prison Officers’ Association (personal capacity)

 

Ian Lawrence

General Secretary, Napo

 

Ben Cockburn

Acting National Chair, Napo

 

Roddy Russell

IPP campaigner

 

Andrew Morris

Founder, New Wave Trust, and IPP On Licence

 

Marc Conway

Director, Fair Justice, and IPP On Licence

 

Helen Schofield

Chief Executive, Probation Institute

 

Deborah Coles

Executive Director, Inquest

 

Tom Southerden

Law & Human Rights Programme Director, Amnesty International

 

Henry Rossi

Founder, The Institute of Now

 

Jon Robbins

Editor, The Justice Gap

 

Sarah Lewis

Director, Penal Reform Solutions

 

Gloria Morrison

JENGbA

 

Tyrone Steele

Deputy Legal Director, Justice

 

Andy Keen-Downs

Chief Executive, Pact

 

Lubia Begum-Rob

Director, Prisoners’ Advice Service

 

Emma Torr

Co-Director, APPEAL

 

Matt Foot

Co-Director, APPEAL

 

Pavan Dhaliwal

Chief Executive, Revolving Doors

 

Peter Stefanovic

Chief Executive, Campaign for Social Justice

 

Cat Diales

Reform and Rebuild

 

Phil Bowen

Director, Centre for Justice Innovation

 

Annette So

Director, Criminal Justice Alliance

 

Russell Webster

Independent researcher and consultant

 

Campbell Robb

Chief Executive, Nacro

 

Melanie Jameson

Clerk, Quakers in Criminal Justice

 

Gavin Dingwall

Head of Policy and Communications, The Sentencing Academy

 

Penelope Gibbs

Director, Transform Justice

 

Dr Hannah Quirk

Reader in Criminal Law, King’s College London

 

Professor Harry Annison

Professor in Criminal Justice, Southampton Law School

 

Professor Nicola Padfield

Emeritus Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice, University of Cambridge

 

Naima Sakande

Research Consultant

 

Tabitha Nice

Professional mediator

 

Susie Labinoj

Head of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Hodge Jones & Allen

 

Andrew Sperling

Managing Director and Solicitor-Advocate, SL5 Legal

 

Wayne Jordash KC

Doughty Street Chambers and President, Global Rights Compliance

 

Edward Fitzgerald KC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Tim Owen KC

Matrix Chambers

 

Phillippa Kaufmann KC

Matrix Chambers

 

Hugh Southey KC

Matrix Chambers

 

Nick Armstrong KC

Matrix Chambers

 

Jude Bunting KC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Katy Thorne KC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Farrhat Arshad KC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Patrick O’Connor KC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Adam Straw KC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Jamie Burton KC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Paul Harris SC

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Ayesha Christie

Matrix Chambers

 

Rosalind Comyn

Matrix Chambers

 

Lauren Bardoe

Matrix Chambers

 

Raj Desai

Matrix Chambers

 

Quincy Whittaker

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Amos Waldman

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Ruby Peacock

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Hayley Douglas

Doughty Street Chambers

 

Nick Brown

Doughty Street Chambers

 

James Robottom

Matrix Chambers

 

Stuart Withers

No5 Chambers

 

Michael Bimmler

No5 Chambers

 

Kaswar Zaman

No5 Chambers

 

Dean Kingham

Parole Board lead, Association of Prison Lawyers

 

Hamid Sabi

Sabi & Associates

 

Chris Minnoch

Chief Executive Officer, LAPG (Legal Aid Practitioners Group)

 

Lorna Hackett

Hackett & Dabbs LLP

 

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APPEAL is the working name of the Centre for Criminal Appeals, a Charitable Company Limited By Guarantee and a law practice authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Registered Charity Number: 1144162 | SRA Authorisation Number: 621184 | Company Number: 7556168

6 Comments

  1. Suezanne Lochmuller on July 13, 2024 at 10:48 pm

    Suezanne Lochmuller

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