The Truth About IPP Sentences

Cameron again shows weakness over IPP and sentence reforms

What a pathetic sleaze-ball...

Weak, sleazy David Cameron appears to be getting ready to go into reverse over reforms to IPP sentencing and the prison system and once again deserts Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke¬† as he seeks to reform Britain’s corrupt and failing justice system.

Although it usually pleases me greatly when I am proved to be right about certain aspects of politics in the UK, this is not one of those occasions. The only hope that ordinary people have of seeing fairness in sentencing and in the treatment of those held on Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPP) is in seeing Mr. Clarke force through his reforms.

It now looks as though those reforms are very much in jeopardy as the weakest prime minister for many years has once again caved in to his right-wing backbenchers and the tabloid newspapers.

For thousands of IPP prisoners who are long past the tariff laid down by the courts when they were sentenced, this comes as worrying news indeed. To their families, it is nothing short of devastation.

As the likes of right-wing, publicity-seeking conservative MP Philip Davies chuckle away in the background, the families and children of those incarcerated in an unjust and unfair penal system suffer as their loved ones remain in custody when they should have been given the chance of release long ago.

And to those ‘holier than thou’, sanctimonious individuals who believe that anyone who commits a serious offence in the UK should be thrown into prison and left there to rot for ever, I and say this:

Stop blaming others for the disappointment and failure of your own miserable lives and instead of taking it out on prisoners and criticising Mr. Clarke in his brave attempts to bring common sense into the field of justice, be ready to support and respect him in what he is trying to do. Remember, it could easily be your son or daughter or even yourself who through unexpected circumstances, false allegations or bad judgement ends up inside serving a sentence that should never have been introduced in the first place.

Even the Home Secretary, Theresa May who dislikes Mr. Clarke with a vengeance was today forced into a situation where she had to deny that Clarke and the Conservatives were being soft on crime. This must have been most uncomfortable for her as she disagrees with Mr. Clarke on almost every aspect of penal policy.

Meanwhile, at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, David Cameron did he is usual and very competent PR job in defending his Justice Secretary whilst at the same time trying desperately to avoid the looks of astonishment from those who have rightly branded Cameron both a weak and pathetic hypocrite and a liar.

Almost every day we see a new U-turn from David Cameron as he gives in to pressure from right wing pressure groups, the tabloids, his own furious backbenchers or other groups with vested interests in various areas of policy. Indeed, whereas Tony Blair was widely regarded as being a political dictator, Mr. Cameron is so weak as to be almost unbelievable.

Whether it be on the subject of forests, the NHS or penal reform, Mr. Cameron seems incapable of declaring a policy and seeing it through to the end, preferring instead to back away from difficult choices and in the process leaving his own Cabinet colleagues hanging out to dry.

Not only does Mr. Clarke now have the problem of trying to find further savings in a system that is already bankrupt but thanks to Cameron’s cowardice, he is also in the situation of having to somehow replace the loss of the one major policy that could have saved his department the money that has been requested by the Treasury.

Mr. Clarke’s intention had been to increase the discount given for an early guilty plea by those charged with any offence to 50%; an increase of about 17% of the current time discounted from a sentence. Whether it’s 33% or 50% is largely academic but the difference is still sufficient to worry back bench Conservative MPs who are terrified of accusations that the Conservatives are going soft on crime.

For years and years, ever since Michael Howard made his now notorious, nasty, vindictive and self-serving speech claiming that prison works, it has become more and more obvious to everyone that prison does not work in as much that those who come out of prison go on to reoffend within 1 to 2 years.

As previously stated by, the only way to make prison work in the way that Mr. Howard intended is never to release anyone at all. While such an approach may be popular with aging right-wing Tories, it is neither feasible nor fair, let alone lawful.

Ever since the Tory party described themselves as being the ‘party of law and order’ that millstone has been hanging around their neck threatening embarrassment and criticism from every side every time they try to rethink the penal system.

What we are seeing now is a rerun of a very old movie where people who sit on the back benches in the House of Commons are far more concerned with being re-elected than they are with introducing any real justice into our failed penal system.

With regard to IPP sentences, already long overdue for reform, the government once again finds itself in a particularly precarious position.

It cannot afford to go on keeping IPP prisoners in custody for years after their tariff expiry date yet at the same time, it does not have the guts to make the necessary reforms which would inevitably result in many IPP prisoners being released.

Given that it is now more or less universally acknowledged that the IPP sentence was badly drafted, not thought through and badly implemented, it is astonishing, even for David Cameron’s government, that any potential reforms have again been shelved and may very well be rejected altogether. believes that if the proposed reforms of the IPP sentence are rejected or if their implementation fails, we will see one of the biggest miscarriages of justice ever to take place in the UK.

Whilst readers of the Sun newspaper and those of the Daily Mail may have very little sympathy for those behind bars, they need to recognise that what is happening to those convicted citizens could easily happen to them or to members of their own family. It is worth remembering that there are 96 different offences that carry an IPP, not 6.

Like it or not, Britain is a country that now has so much criminal legislation that it is almost impossible for anyone to leave their home and get to work without breaking the law somewhere along the way. If they do break the law, people face some of the longest sentences in Europe.

It has long been a principal in this country that when a convicted person has served his sentence, he should be readmitted and reintegrated into the society against which he originally offended.

If that precious principle of justice is destroyed for the sake of political expediency or because our weak and pathetic Prime Minister cannot stand up for his own policies of penal reform, it will not only be a tragedy but also a travesty of the so-called ‘justice and fairness’ which Conservative politicians and tacky tabloid newspapers both claim to support yet always, for their own selfish benefit,¬† take pleasure in preventing.

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10 Responses to Cameron again shows weakness over IPP and sentence reforms

  1. Upset Man
    October 5, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    This is a stupid sentence that does not only forget prisoners, it is be racially used against young black boys, some of whom are too young to be deemed as dangerous devil for ever as it has be a tool for racist Judges to condemn black people similar to a new very harsher SUS law. Presently, my partner has a son who is doing an IPP sentence, but i rarely can tell her the truth with relation to when he may get out. Not only do the inmates have to dance to a certain tune, families or well at least we are trying to prove stable good home background and circumstances to give a chance of release, especially with the limited spaces in bail hostels. If they do not do something soon, COMPLIANCE WILL TURN INTO DEVIANCE AND A MURDER, it is legal torture for families and inmates. Ken Clarke has always been a sensible MP that i find hard not to listen, but wish that two faced w****r Cameron would listen to him. Authoritatian Populism created by a Labour government that could not afford to be tough on the causes of crime and make some many working class people suffer in jail when i thought they were for us and this sentence would have been expected to be introduced by the blinkering Tories. Ed is another w****r or should i say Cane or was Able that did his brother in? Laugh or cry is what IPP does to you.

  2. Steve
    June 22, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I had never heard of this sentance before IPP now I know more about it.Reading up on it and so on and knowing people now are on this sentance is a dam disgrace WE all wish they would get rid of this stupid sentance as fast as possible.Just replace there main sentance without the IPP name so say a guy got 6 months take away the IPP and let him out cause his well over tariff.I don’t think this goverment knows what its doing to people and what people are planning to do.I stopped voting when I heard about this sentance why should I vote if they aint listening.Lets hope they get rid quick.

  3. June 9, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I find it heartbreaking to think that my partner along with everyone else serving this sentence, families of loved ones included are living every day not knowing when or if they will ever get home. My partner like many others is a model prisoner, completed sentence plan etc etc, but because of this stupid sentence all his achievements count basically for nothing!When he goes for parole he is bound to get a knock back just because this sentence allows knock backs with no legitimate reason as to why. I have written to all I can think of but as you say we get the same standard generic letter back saying the same old shiz! I would love to go tie myself to railings outside prisons or do a march to have ourselves heard but I fear that it would only make things worse for my man and also the papers and the general “law abiding” public would probably just mock us, All they want to see is criminals locked up behind bars…Out of sight out of mind for them. Its one of them things that we unfortunately can do little to change, because its criminals and prison issues the public, unless they are going through the same thing, have no sympathy for us or our loved ones! I hope Cameron can grow a back bone and start to make changes to this nightmare instead of just trying to remain in the publics good book so as to be elected in the next BIG elections…Its all about power and victory to him.

  4. lynne simpson
    June 9, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I have a son who is serving an IPP sentence was sentenced to 18months and has now served 6 and half years, pleaded guilty and has since been told if he had pleaded not guilty would have walked.
    he has done all of his courses has been a model prisoner but has constantly had his parole hearings delayed most recent because the physch did not turn up that was 9 months ago.he is now 26 and has begun to suffer mentally as he now beleives he will never get out and will have no future.
    this sentence is not only vicious and vindictive but I beleive is harming the prisoners mentally to such an extent that a normal life will be difficult how fair is it that if he went before the courts today on the same offence he would likely get a 9-12 month determinate sentence and be free in 5- 6 months. surely the goverment must urgently review all the pre 2008 cases that would no longer have an IPP sentence. If these prisoners were held in a foreign country on this sentence everyone would be protesting loudly.

    • Raymond Peytors -
      June 9, 2011 at 10:21 am

      It is a sad fact that most people (and some MPs) do not even know what an IPP is. Until it directly affects them or their family, generally speaking people do not care or know about many aspects of the laws that control their lives. You are correct though in what you say. If this were France, people would be out on the streets and politicians would be fearful of their jobs. In the UK however, it seems that politicians only feel secure when they are putting others behind bars.

    • Anna Travers
      June 9, 2011 at 11:32 am


      We should be chaining ourself to fences of jails alert some reporters first and get some publicity that will raise awareness….!!!! I’m Ready cos right now i cant focus on anything else this is eating away at me….my son is facing civic death and i need to be as active as i can !!!

      • lynne simpson
        June 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

        the trouble is that we don’t do anything because we are frightened that it will be bad for our sons or husbands as the prison service note all these things down and they count against them I agree we should be more active but we are scared not to make a hideous situation even worse and cause problems for the prisoner I have written to everyone that I can think of but all you get is a standard reply that means nothing in return. The problem also is that the press jump on this without understanding that not all IPP prisoners deserve to still be in prison my son was at a previous jail with someone that had been sentenced to 17DAYS[shows how serious the judge thought it was] and was still in prison 5 YEARS later.

        • Paul
          June 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

          Its hard to see how you could make things could be much worse!

          While a random angry act would not help and inteligent campaign could make some impact.

          The Ministry of Justice is still considering what to do about IPP sentences acording to Mr Clark yesterday, so how about a demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice, with a few simple demands like, introducion of formalised release test for IPP prisoners; release of those with a minimum term of under 4 years who are over there minimum term unless they are now assess as dangerous; more offending behaviour courses; a better assesment of dangerousness before an IPP sentance can be imposed.
          It could make a difference.

          • Petro
            June 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm

            Paul that is a brillant idea I am up for it,if only I knew how to go about it. More publicity is needed in a peaceful manner. 7000 plus families can send a good out cry.I and son have a long way to go the tariff expires in 2013 why not do my bit too. IPP prisoners need our help, we out here just need to find acceptable ways to air our suffering to the MOJ.

  5. Ramon1940
    June 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Cameron has only a smattering of experience in Government and should be magnanimous enough to let the Experienced Members of cabinet do what is best for the Justice system, prisoners held longer than their original sentence, and the vast number of prisoners who are incarcerated on the malicious vindictive LIES of the Police and the False Accusers. The CPS also are NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE.

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