In February 2023, the Government rejected calls from the Justice Select Committee to undertake a resentencing exercise for those serving imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentences. It also rejected further recommendations from the Committee for the management of those on IPP sentences and their futures.
At the time, we commented on the Government’s response to the Justice Select Committee’s report. Campbell Robb, Nacro’s Chief Executive, said: “To not review the sentences of the 3,000 people still held on these sentences, with their lives in perpetual limbo, is inhumane.”
IMBs speak to IPP prisoners
Following the Government’s decision to reject recommendations, Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) have been speaking to IPP prisoners about the impact of this decision, and the sentence itself on their wellbeing.
The result of these conversations is alarming. IPP prisoners who spoke to IMB members described increased feelings of hopelessness and frustration following the Government’s decision. This led to poor mental health, violence, and an increase in disruptive behaviour.
More distressingly, there have been three apparently self-inflicted deaths of people serving IPP sentences reported in the four weeks since the decision was announced.
IMBs across 24 prisons in England and Wales also found that:
- Many IPP prisoners were questioning whether they would ever be released now and feared they would die in prison.
- Progression pathways were poor and unclear, with many being held in inappropriate prisons where they could not access the courses they need for parole and release.
- There was inadequate preparation for release, which could lead to recall to prison: for example, because of issues arising from the loss of accommodation.
‘No hope now’ say IPP prisoners
“Nothing has changed. Hope kills you. No hope now” – quote from IPP prisoner.
‘I wake up each day not wanting to be alive, even when I am released I am waiting to come back to prison….my mental health is in bits’ – quotes from IPP prisoner.
On release of the report Dame Anne Owers, National Chair of the IMBs said: “This briefing shows that those prisoners’ feelings of hopelessness and frustration have significantly increased following the rejection of the Justice Committee’s recommendation for resentencing.
“As the safety, wellbeing and hope of IPP prisoners deteriorates, we consider that a resentencing exercise is still vital.”
Following on from his comments at the time of the Government’s rejection, Campbell Robb said: “It is clear from the IMB’s report that the Government’s refusal to reconsider the sentences of IPP prisoners is causing extreme levels of anguish and harm. The Government must urgently reconsider its decision and right this historic wrong.”