Joint letter signed on Reform of the IPPs | Nacro

Joint letter signed on Reform of the Imprisonment for Public Protection Sentence


Nacro joins 69 other organisations in joint letter

On Thursday 11th July 2024, Nacro is joining 69 other organisations in signing a letter to the Secretary of State for Justice on the reform of the Imprisonment for Public Protection Sentence (IPPs.)

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 force.
  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 sentence.
  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

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours faithfully,


  • 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 2
  • 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 E
  • mma 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

What are IPPs?

IPPs, introduced in England and Wales in 2003, are a form of imprisonment without a defined release date. They were intended to be for people convicted of dangerous offences who were considered a significant risk to the public but whose offence didn’t merit a life sentence.

Read more information about IPPs here.