The Truth About IPP Sentences

IPP prisoners in jail longer as HMP fails to provide courses

Too few courses, too many IPP prisoners

Too few courses, too many IPP prisoners has recently received more reports that prisoners subject to an IPP sentence (Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection) are unable to achieve their release because the Prison Service is still failing to provide the necessary number of offending behaviour courses. IPP prisoners must complete specified courses if they are to have any hope of ever being released.

Just after the 2010 general election, prisons minister, Crispin blunt said, ‘We have 6,000 IPP prisoners, well over 2,500 of whom have exceeded their tariff point. Many cannot get on courses because our prisons are wholly overcrowded and (they are) unable to address offending behaviour. That is not a defensible position.

Two years on, the current situation appears to be even worse than it was before. With average prison numbers at an all time high, IPP prisoners are often sent to inappropriate establishments where the necessary courses are not available or are told that they will be ‘made a priority’ for their particular course, only to later discover that they have not actually been included on the list at all.

There have even been occasions where a prisoner has sent to a particular prison for the express purpose of completing a specified offending behaviour program and is then transferred to another establishment, usually without a reason being given, shortly before the course begins. He then often discovers that the course is unavailable in his new establishment.

In any of the above circumstances, it can be another two or three years before another place on the appropriate course becomes available. That is another two or three years unnecessarily spent in jail. has also received reliable reports that where a prisoner’s case has been the subject of high profile media attention, the probation and prison services then insist that he undertakes additional and often unnecessary courses before they will even consider recommending his release. The end result is that an IPP prisoner who has a ‘tariff’ (the minimum time to be served) of 3 years may very well find himself serving nearer 10 years or longer behind bars for no good reason.

The government has claimed that it wishes to reform the British criminal justice system. It has announced that it will in fact scrap IPP sentences altogether and replace them with long, determinate sentences.

It has consulted, reviewed, consulted again and drawn up new legislation. It has done all this and yet there are still over 6,500 IPP prisoners, 3,000 of which are well past their tariff and are still in jail because they are forced to undertake courses that are not being provided.

The worst thing of all is that nobody can actually provide independent evidence to show that these courses work. Any ‘evidence’ has either been produced by the government itself or by sources in other jurisdictions – notably the US – where the culture, psychology and makeup of individuals is completely different to Britain anyway.

It is the fact that many of the most contentious courses, especially the so-called Sex offender Treatment Programme, are not used so much as a means of rehabilitation but rather as a method of risk assessment. A good idea one may think, except that reliable sources inside the prison system have made it clear that if the ‘assessment’ is positive and indicates that ‘no further work is necessary’, this positive assessment will be ignored. As a result, additional courses in prison and upon eventual release are always specified as part of release criteria.

This is a way of ensuring that the massive numbers of prison staff, probation staff and police officers involved in ‘protecting’ the public can be maintained and their employment guaranteed.

Some may find that a cynical view but, in truth, It would be a brave politician indeed who stood up and expressed the view that millions of pounds paid by taxpayers every year are being wasted on meaningless courses, the highly secretive and unaccountable MAPPA system and other procedures  that cannot be proven to actually improve public protection at all.

As all the above measures are shrouded in secrecy, it is impossible to verify whether the methods employed by the authorities in order to ‘protect the public’, ‘assess risk of reoffending’ and to ‘safeguard children’ are effective or not. We are all simply supposed to take the word of those who themselves benefit greatly from being involved in the running of the system.

The Coalition has pronounced that the new measures relating to IPP sentences – that they will be replaced with long, determinate sentences – will not apply to existing IPP prisoners. Thus, 6,500 prisoners will be unaffected by the ‘reforms’ to the system and will remain in jail until they can – with great difficulty – somehow ‘prove’ that they are no longer a risk to the public.

Meanwhile, as the legislation containing the reforms, the ‘Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill’  has again been defeated in the House of Lords, this time over some of the cuts to Legal Aid, the horse-trading will inevitably begin in order that the government can get the new law on to the Statute Book by the time of the Summer Recess.

This gives those who are against IPP reforms – and there are significant numbers of them – the opportunity to derail the government’s plan to scrap IPPs and also distracts attention away from the very real problem of what to do about those who are already serving the sentence that was described by the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke as being “…a stain on British Justice.”

As stain on ‘British Justice’ it may very well be but, if the government does not either provide more courses or alternatively change the criteria for release, many thousands of IPP prisoners will still be being held unjustly behind bars next year, the year after and for the foreseeable future.

In fact, if the term ‘British Justice’ is to retain any sense of its original meaning at all, believes that whatever the cost, embarrassment or criticism that may come the government’s way, the increasingly out of touch David Cameron and his Cabinet must realistically address the issue of those IPP prisoners who are over-tariff and who are still in prison.

Almost every sensible and reasonable person, lawyer and judge (notably not policeman, prison officer or probation officer) believes that the IPP sentence is and always has been an unmitigated disaster. It is a politically driven sentence introduced for purely political reasons by David Blunkett in order to suck-up to the Sun, News of the World and child protection charities.

According to the original estimates given when IPP sentences were introduced, there should today be about 900 IPP prisoners. Instead, there are 6,500 and the figure is still rising. How much more of a disaster does the government want? What real action is being taken to solve the problem? believes, sadly, that actually the government doesn’t care about the injustice that continues to take place. What it does care about however is the negative reporting that may be directed towards it should real solutions be put in place.

The sad truth is that, as previously stated, the IPP sentence is and always has been a ‘political’ sentence. It looks very much as if it is destined to remain as such and that makes it very difficult, if not impossible for the government to fix the problem without being accused of ‘going soft’ on crime, something that David Cameron is simply not prepared to do, now or ever.

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41 Responses to IPP prisoners in jail longer as HMP fails to provide courses

  1. Amanda Goodall
    November 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    To Margaret & to anyone else out there who do not yet know about the IPP Prisoners’ Campaign – please feel welcome to unite with us & continue our fight for further reform within the law.
    Our website is searchable via google, on our site you will find my direct contact details as well as the link for our facebook page too. Look forward to hearing from you all.


    • amber
      July 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      I am writing my dissertation on the abolition of ipp and it would be very useful to me if anybody could answer the following questions
      thanks amber

      has your friend/ family member been released?

      do you know anybody who has been released and gone on to commit a further crime?

      do you think the victims of these crimes would agree with the sentence?

  2. Margaret Chorley
    July 26, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Will anyone help me to put a letter of complaint together to send to the Ministry of Justice. Every time I sit down to write something about this my brain goes into meltdown, it’s the same when I try to explain it to people. I know you may think it futile but I need to do something. If I start a process of complaint and I don’t get anywhere I can then go to the Ombudsman. Or better still if we all start a process of complaint we can all go to the justice ombudsman if the complaint system is not working. We have to try something.

  3. Margaret Chorley
    July 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I think it would be useful if the Raymond Peytors put together a letter containing all the factual information about the inhumane nature of the IPP sentence and all the reasons it should be found to be illegal that any prisoners should be contained under such terms. The letter then could be released to all the website users together with names and addresses of MP’s, newspapers, TV news programes and any other organisations or individuals it would be useful to inform about the abusive sentencing of IPP. If we all then printed off the letter and signed it and sent it to all the addresses we may find some support There has to be a way to do these things collectively and get this information out there….. Margaret

  4. Margaret Chorley
    July 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    My son was found guilty of GBH and received an IPP sentence of 3 and a half years. He has been in prison for almost 7 years now and his parole date was 1st of June 2012. He has done all the courses that he was supposed to do and all the people who are employed to work with him while he is in prison are recommending that he should be released into the community but his parole date was deferred to 16th August.

    I spoke to him on the phone yesterday, 22-07-2012, and he was excited about how close the parole date was getting but when he phoned me today he read out a letter that he had received saying that his parole date was deferred, yet again!

    He has been told that he may get a parole date in October. He couldn’t get in touch with his solicitor by phone because she was out and we don’t know what she can do anyway . There doesn’t seem to be any justice for IPP prisoners.

    Please could anyone let me know who I can contact to get something done about this. I don’t believe that this sort of mental torture that is inflicted on prisoners should be allowed to carry on.


    • Raymond Peytors -
      July 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      I would suggest: your MP, the governor of the prison, the Parole Board and the probation officer (offender manager) all within the same week. Don’t be afraid of rocking the boat; you have nothing to lose. – Editor

  5. lou
    June 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    My friend got a 3 year ipp and is still in after 7 years. he was moved from a cat c to a cat d (open prison). But was moved back to a cat c???? No hope of release and its awful for him and us.

  6. shirley
    June 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    i I have organised a protest outside parliament on 2nd july 2012 to get the government to rescind the ipp sentecne added to my sons two and half year tariff.And to rescind the ipp off all ipps that have served their tariff.My son still in prison 7 years later.We have to fight and get our loved ones freed so join the protest on 2nd July. Cardiff MP and the A.M for the welsh assembly will be there to help fight our corner.I have set up FREE SHAUN LLOYD.COM please sign the petition to free our loved ones.Please spread the word about the protest.

    • Raymond Peytors -
      June 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      Editor’s note: You may find it more effective to use and promote our Forum as the centre of your activities. is the number one site for information on IPP sentences and our Forum is there for your use . . . and it’s free. – Editor

  7. shirley
    April 26, 2012 at 10:05 am

    this sentence is so unfair my son is five years over tariff.I took my petition from door to door i stood there and explained this ipp to every persons door i knocked, every single person i spoke to was so shocked about this sentence, i got 400 signatures in my book and sent it off to ken clark. It was hard work knocking door to door but it was worth it as i told these people to inform others about this babaric sentense. I allso did a protest outside HMP cardiff and a news reporter put an article in the south wales echo on april 2nd about the ipp sentence so now a lot more people have been made aware of this inhumane unjust unfair sentence. I hope the government wakes up and realises it has made a big mistake and release all ipps that have served their tariff

    • Raymond Peytors -
      April 26, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Editor’s Note: If you want support, I suggest you share this in the Forum where there is a section dedicated to IPP sentences.Just click HERE

  8. IPP fighter
    April 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    We are small group of IPP fighters doing all we can to get out our IPPs. PLease can everyone who has a friend, loved one etc get in touch and lets fight for them together.

    • Raymond Peytors -
      April 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Editor’s Note: Please publish this in the Forum together with your contact details.- Editor

    • Martina H
      April 20, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Judicial review (Reform) of the IPP sentence to sign petition

    • Margaret Chorley
      July 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      How do I get in touch? It is good to work together

  9. lisa
    April 17, 2012 at 10:52 am

    when is the march and were???

  10. lisa
    April 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

    ipp needs scrapping my partner got 7yrs ipp last yr is not fair. at the end of the day you do the crime you do the time but ipp is stupid. its a life sentance and you got people who take someones life and get 10 yrs do 5 its not right someone dose a robbery and gets 7 ipp. its got to go in the name off jesuse!!!!!!

  11. rita lister
    April 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    hi all people who have ipp in jail would you please sign our campaign on ipp campaign site we have marched we need 10,000 signatures to pass to downing street to get release dates for our ipp the campaign is run by amanda goodall and allyce swift and sponsered by emmersons and lorna elliott come on all you people lets get cracking and end this barbaric sentence and get release dates

    • Raymond Peytors -
      April 12, 2012 at 12:15 am

      I suggest you join the forum and publish this information in a new topic (just click the ‘new topic’ button in the IPP category) If others also join, you are more than welcome to then use the forum as a central point for your petition if you wish. To join, just click the link at the top of the page.I hope this will be of help to you. – Editor

  12. Martina H
    April 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm is the site to write to your M.P. The more people that write, perhaps they will sit up and take notice. It’s just a evil sentence to hand down to somebody. How can one prove they are not a threat to the public whilst still in prison?

  13. Lucian666
    April 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    The original article hit the nail on the head: this type of sentence keeps thousands of people in employment. Whilst the country is in the current financial situation, there will be no change. There are nearly 100,000 prisoners’ in the UK, 6500 IPP prisoners’ equates to 6% of the ‘population’. Out of the 100,000 men incarcerated: 30,000 to 45,000 of those are ‘revolving door’ inmates. The Prisons Service NEEDS a substantial amount of ‘static prisoners’ for the multiple work programs.

  14. shirley
    April 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    my son was given 4 and half yrs ipp tarrif 11 weeks ago,this sentence is inhumane,barbaric sentence,everybody deserves a release date,or no light at the end of the tunnel,it is devastating for the son also was not proven guilty,no evidence,they just twisted his trial,to get a conviction,british justice stinks,How can they put a 20yr old in prison for years,and years and years,over his girlfriends lies ? complete madness

    • Paul
      April 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      I sympathise but trust me, you don’t understand the half of it. Get the IPP survival book. It’s only £7 and has already helped me to make progress with the authorities. If you think the system is bad, wait until you have read the book. Then you will understand what is really going on and how to fight against it. I can’t remember the exact link for the book but you will find it at the top of on the left hand side. Be warned, it tells you the truth but if you and your son are to make any progress, that is what you need to know. Good luck. Paul

      • kim williams
        April 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm

        Then what are you going to do about it Paul -we have a voice and freedom of speech-if we all get together the average man will know we can’t just leave them there.

    • kim williams
      April 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      we need to march and exwecise our human rights as well as defend our sons human rights

  15. CAR
    April 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I have been fighting for nearly 2 years now as my son got a 7 year IPP sentence. He was found guilty with no proof of the crime he was convicted of due to a girl full of lies lies and more lies. I thought that you had to be proved guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. There was no proof whatsoever. My son has been told that because he maintains his innocence he will NEVER be released until he owns up to his responsibilities. What has happened to fair, equal and Just law in England. It appears to be greatly flawed whereby IPP prisoners are kept in situ to ensure Probationary jobs, parole jobs stay. As long as they have their jobs by keeping many many prinsoners long after their release dates and the tax payers are paying £1000’s and £1000’s of our hard earned cash to maintain these prisoners the goverment will continue to turn a blind eye. They are not worried about these prisoners or their families. They are sitting pretty afraid to upset the colleagues should they disagree with the IPP sentences. Our leaders all need to grow a pair and be men and face up to this inhumane practice. End IPP’s for current serving prisoners not just future offenders.

    • Raymond Peytors -
      April 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      The whole concept of ‘British Justice’ is a complete myth. True justice has never existed in this country (as can be seen from history) and probably never will. The IPP and treatment of innocent prisoners are just further examples. – Editor

    • kim williams
      April 8, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      Then let’s protest.

    • kim williams
      April 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Then lets make a difference -march in protest -get heard release our sons.

  16. Susan
    March 31, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Hi my son got a 20 month ipp tariff after waiting years for courses he finely completed all that was required of him, he is now in his fifth year.
    They have now sent him to Gartree prison which as you know is a prison for life sentenced prisoners minimum of 6months maximum of two years.
    Were he will be observed by trained staff to see if he has put into practice what he has learned .
    This H wing houses ipp prisoners its brand new so nobody really knows anything about it.
    They said if he did not agree to go then it would count against him in the reports.
    I do know that nobody gets released from Gartree its a cat B+ prison so he will still have to go to a cat c prison for at least a year after they have finished watching him.
    The write up on the Gartree site says a lifer prison were prisoners can come to terms with there life sentance.
    So my conclusion even when you have done all the courses THEY STILL DONT GET OUT OF PRISON.
    So it really is a life sentence they have no intention of letting anyone out, if they can help it.
    Thank you for all your hard work in bringing to light all the injustice in our so called Great Britain.
    Regards Susan

    • kim williams
      April 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      My son is still in after 5 years =i am with you this needs to be changed through law

      start writing to where it matters -protest in peace we are mothers fighting for our sons -a connections team under labour told my son he could only get a car if he committed greater crime -you can’t always trust those helping supposedly-i/m noe saying he is innocent but he has done his time.

    • lisa
      April 17, 2012 at 11:03 am

      hi that just makes you sick he got 20 months and has dun 5 yrs. discusting, something needs doing about this its wrong, but wat can we do my partner got 7 yrs ipp last yr. its all a mony making thing yo no for the goverment. thats why they keep them in and the courses the goverment get paid wen each person dose the course so iv been told. something has got to change.. good luck with your son

  17. Mike
    March 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    The ordinary man in the street does not even understand or know about IPP. They are led to believe that people only serve a third to half of the sentence. They just do not know that some are serving years longer than the original sentence. I’m afraid that the above article is correct and nothing is going to change.

    • kim williams
      April 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      Protest -lets march

      • nikki
        April 12, 2012 at 4:05 pm

        my husband got 3 years ipp 7 years ago he has completed every course and been told there is nothing else he can do in prison and he is still not any nearer to coming home these people are just stuck in the system if he would of been sentenced after 2008 he would never of received ipp its so unfair there was a documentry on bbc 3 following the lives of people affected buy a loved one going to prison they ever mentioned ipp or how we feel never knowing when they will be released somebody need to make one on ipp and show what a mess the goverment have made with this sentance and how much its costing the public to keep people who have served more than there time this sentance need scrapping quick

  18. Shelley
    March 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    This sentence is simply unjust and inhumane,it effects not only prisoners but their family and loved-ones,children don’t know when daddys coming home,mothers waiting for sons and wives and partners waiting on their other half to be released. The Tax Payer is paying thousands of pounds to keep them in,way past tariff, when there is no evidence that they will commit another offence. This was a knee jerk reaction by the previous government and now needs to be addressed, if this was in a foreign land there would be outcry about human rights. All we want, both prisoners and families is a release date…fair and simple,give us a release date!

    • kim williams
      April 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      Let;s march in peace protest

  19. Odeseus
    March 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    If the government want to solve this problem (which they may not) they wll have to face the fact that the British press will fight anything that prevents prisoners from being held in prison for ever. Maybe, one day newspaper editors, politicians, police and probation will be on the receiving end instead.

    • kim williams
      April 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      stop talking and hoping for somebody else to do something lets maerch

    • Margaret Chorley
      July 26, 2012 at 8:06 am

      I hope that day comes but that would mean having a ‘Justice for all’ and not just for some. If there was any ‘justice’ for the ordinary person we would see a different, poor peaceful, world. I don’t think that we are going to see any of these people serving time, even if they are proved to have committed crimes against humanity.

  20. Paul
    March 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Everyone with half a brain can see that IPPs are wrong, wrong, wrong! It’s all very well scrapping them but what about these the thousands of people who have already got one? Is there not even one politician left in Britain that is prepared to tell the truth for once, especially about something as unjust as the IPP?

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