Indefinite Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs): a call for action 

The House of Commons’ Justice Committee report on IPPs was published on 28th September 2022.

This welcome report not only acknowledges their rightful abolition under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 but also that as this legislation was not retrospective, in excess of 8,000 people are still affected. Of most concern is that there are nearly 3,000 in prison now, with rising numbers of those released but recalled to custody.

The report focusses on legal solutions. A particularly welcome recommendation is for a time limited expert committee to develop actionable plans.

On 17th October Sophie Ellis, of Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, brought experts together from health, criminal justice, independent bodies and lived experience to consider responses. The work of UNGRIPP has been particularly valuable in documenting the problems and recommending solutions  In Cambridge, there was consensus on the importance of acknowledging the injustice for this group of people, related harms and consequent urgency of action. Legislative proposals, need for investment, relevant expertise and clear accountability on progress were each seen as important if the situation is to be resolved satisfactorily. 

Of particular importance to Crime in Mind colleagues and supporters, there is only the barest thread of understanding of the psychosocial needs that must be met for safe outcomes for all. The high psychological toll of the sentence is evident in the fact that a quarter of those who have died since sentencing have died by suicide. There is a need for research to understand additional adverse outcomes, including the growing number of recalls, so that solutions can be the more effective for being evidence based.