The Truth About IPP Sentences

Weak Cameron forces punishment change to IPP reforms

Cameron - panicking over IPP reforms

Cameron - panicking over IPP reforms

Ken Clarke’s brave attempt to bring common sense into the sentencing system in England and Wales is being sabotaged by sleazy prime minister David Cameron who is afraid of appearing to be ‘soft on crime’. It was revealed in a House of Lords debate last week that Cameron, ever fearful of criticism from the tabloids, women’s groups and charities, ordered that the title of the new Bill be changed to include the word ‘punishment’ rather than the phrase ‘prevention of reoffending’.

The cynical attempt to derail Clarke’s reforms, all of which are hated by right wing Tories including the ambitious Home Secretary, Theresa May, was revealed by the former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Lord David Ramsbotham who openly – and rightly – criticised the government for pandering to populist newspapers and Conservative backbenchers who are desperate to follow the failed justice policies of the US in the belief that the public supports longer sentences. Research shows however that the public is actually not all that fond of long sentences, especially when people discover how much they are going to cost the tax payer.

Agreeing with TheOpinionSite.org, several peers took the opportunity to castigate the government for ignoring the plight of thousands of current IPP prisoners and their families who have been told that they will not benefit from the scrapping of IPP sentences sometime next year. Instead, those currently serving the disastrous sentence will have to spend years more in jail until the overstretched Parole Board can find time to hear their cases.

Out of touch Cameron, who models himself on Blair and Thatcher, sees any attempt to reduce the prison population or sentences as anti-Conservative and is only supporting the limited changes because of the coalition agreement. If it were not for pressure from the Liberal Democrats, together with the government’s current lack of money, Cameron would be advocating putting more people in prison for longer.

When Clarke first announced his much praised ‘Rehabilitation Revolution’, he clearly stated that IPPs would be replaced by ‘long determinate sentences’. Bowing down to Theresa May, Cameron changed the policy to instead replace IPP sentences with mandatory life sentences, a move that has been criticised by almost every sector of the criminal justice system, except the police and probation who only ever want to keep offenders locked up for as long as possible in order that they do not have to be managed in the community.

Clarke and his team are desperately trying to salvage what they can of the original policy but the Bill is being watered down at every turn by hard line Conservatives, many of whom – especially Theresa May – hate Ken Clarke with a passion. They see his ‘common sense’ approach as politically damaging and anyway have no care whatsoever for those whose lives are affected by bad legislation put in place for purely political reasons.

With increasing (though not necessarily effective) opposition from police, probation, prison warders and public protection groups, it is remarkable that the reforms are still alive at all but it is also far from certain how many of the proposed changes will survive over the coming months. The truth is that politicians are only ever interested in staying in power and do not care how many individuals, families or communities are damaged in the process.

TheOpinionSite.org warned some time ago that prisoners and their families were wrong to think that changes would come quickly and pointed out that some desired changes might not come at all. Regrettably, that seems to be the reality now and whilst the arguments continue, more IPPs are being handed out every week, prison numbers are still at a record high and the resources essential to any prisoner’s release, particularly the offending behaviour courses perceived by the authorities to be so important, are being cut back.

Clarke intended that his changes to policy would solve other problems as well; unjustified recalls to custody ordered by the probation service, unnecessary monitoring of those who are unlikely to reoffend, the secretive (and some would say unlawful) police and probation MAPPA system that makes decisions based on evidence that no one can see or test, the lack of hostel provision for those serious offenders being released and so on.

A complete rethink aimed at getting rid of what Clarke correctly described as ‘the populist nonsense’ so loved by the last Labour government is what the reforms should be and were intended to be about. Instead, weak conservatives have caved in to pressure from the Daily Mail, NSPCC and others and in the process have emasculated the Bill, robbing us of some of the most progressive and sensible reforms to the criminal justice system seen in the last 100 years.

And that is the problem. Law and Order has been – and still is – a political football to be kicked about whenever governments are in difficulty and need to divert the attention of the public away from what really matters – usually war or the economy – in an attempt to stave off political criticism. Weak prime ministers are no different to those that are strong in this respect; they all need to hide the truth and feed the public a constant diet of lies and misinformation in order to survive.

It is uncertain therefore as to how much of Kenneth Clarke’s reform agenda will have survived by the time the Bill becomes Law. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, as it is now known, is a huge piece of legislation designed to right some of the wrongs put in place by Tony Blair, David Blunkett and others. It is designed to bring ‘common sense’ back into sentencing and rid the justice system of the constant ‘mood swings’ that result from knee-jerk decision making that always ends with bad legislation.

Unfortunately, the House of Lords is only a reforming chamber and although the many clever ex-judges and others who populate the place will do their best to keep the good bits of the Bill and get rid of the bad, it is the largely moronic House of Commons that will make the final decisions. This does not bode well as very many MPs simply don’t have the brains to understand the complexities of the legislation and in any case are not particularly interested in the plight of prisoners or those who support them.

TheOpinionSite.org believes that there are still battles to come between the right and the left wings of the Conservative party and to a large extent, it is the result of those battles that will determine the future of the Bill. If the right wingers triumph, we can expect bad legislation that gives more power to all the wrong people whilst ignoring the hideous circumstances faced by those to whom the state has given no means by which they can prove that they are ready for release.

If Clarke and the Liberals win, the criminal justice system, prisoners, their families and society as a whole will benefit. The problem is that for that to happen, the likes of Cameron and May will have to demonstrate that they too can think in a manner that is independent of their own political ambitions, something that neither of them are likely to do any time soon, if indeed they are capable of doing so at all.

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28 Responses to Weak Cameron forces punishment change to IPP reforms

  1. mr gill hartlepool
    April 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    keeping prisoners in prison far to long it only makes them hate.raoul moat. think ipp think agian mr camron and may.
    leve ipp reform to x.barister ken clark.

  2. diane
    January 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    everyone whose got a loved one with an ipp, show your support and join Ipp Prisoners Familys Campaign on face book.

    • nikki
      February 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

      SIGN BAN IPP E-PETITION

  3. mr jones henley on thames
    January 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

    keeping verey lowrisk prisoners ipp .s been in three times the tariff and no release in site.czech ,polish albanion murderers and rapist.sinto the uk.and attack rape and murder britsh woman .open your eyes mr camron or at least read the tabloids as your so feared what thay say about you you you

  4. mr jones henley on thames
    January 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

    if we all right to mr paxman and ask him for a tv dabate and let the public knowe that this ipp is a stain on our justice system and a prisoners human rights let ken clark sort it out x.barrister and he will if may and camron lave him be to do the right thing .ken told paxman that he will do this till he wos told to lye down well done on the march.

  5. mandy
    January 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    is any one comeing on the march on the 21st of jan we are all meeting up at victorar stashion sorry about the spelling i hope u all understand oh at 11,o,clock please try and be there

  6. mr jones henley on thames
    January 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    DEAR MR CAMERON AND MRS MAY IF YOU PUT AN INMATE IN A PRISON CAGE TO LONG.IT WILL BITE WEN LET OUT.IF YOU LET FOOD GO OUT OFF I TS SELL BY DATE FOR YEARS IT WILL GO OFF.AND GO BAD. AND SOONER OR LATER YOU WILL HAVE PRISON RIOTS AND WILL COST THE TAX PAYER MILLIONS.LEAVE PRISON REFORM AND IPP PRISONERS TO KEN CLARK .THE TABLOIDS WILL NOT PAY FOR THE COSTS.

    • mandy
      January 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      well said,are u comeing to join us for our march on the 21st of january 2012 we are meeting up at victorer stashon,at 11,o,clock we need ppl like u that understand this ipp sentents,

  7. rita lister
    December 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    i agree this inhumane sentence should be gone and all ipp prisoners released there was an article i read where more than 9 out of 10 have committed more than one crime and they are all bad my son its his first time in prison and first time in trouble was given a determinate sentence of 4 years but the prosecution thought it too lenient and they appealed to the high court and my son got an ipp of 3 years he did not attend the appeal they said cos of his lifestyle this is what he got he did not go out and made one mistake of which he is sorry for i think this sentence should be abolished

  8. mandy
    December 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    lets all get the march going soo….for ipp prisoners,,,

    • CAR
      December 19, 2011 at 11:45 pm

      I would be very willing to join in any protest march against IPP’s. There is continual talks of changes but nothing ever happens or is agreed through the weaklings in parliament. Cameron needs hanging from the nearest tree. He is so weak and is scared of any comeback from his back benchers etc. Let us join together and let goverment know that this draconian mental torture should not to be allowed to continue.

  9. petro
    December 1, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    LORD WIGLEY IS PROPOSING –
    the following new Clause—
    “Abolition of certain sentences for dangerous offenders (No. 2)
    All those already serving sentences of imprisonment for public protection for serious offences must either—
    (a) have access to relevant rehabilitation programmes, or
    (b) have their sentences rescinded,
    within 30 days of the commencement of this Act.”

    I don’t even think that this would even be considered,I seem not to have any faith in these people.

    • conrad
      December 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Unless You Have Walked In My Shoes

      Please don’t tell me to be strong
      To be wise and stand up tall
      Please don’t urge me to move on
      Don’t treat me as if I am a pawn.

      I’m not heartless, callous and cold;
      I’m not brave nor very bold
      I’m not as tough as I need to be
      So understand, that’s just not me!

      It’s not advice I seek from you
      Just stand by me; let me work it through
      And though I fight daily to stay alive
      With family and friends I will survive.

      Don’t be so eager to be my judge
      Unless you have walked in my shoes!
      And though I don’t hold a grudge
      I’m still battered and bruised.

      • Conrad IPP Asquith
        December 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm

        “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” Together we can and will change IPP laws, Familys United, People power The law should be a shield for the weak and powerless, not a club for the powerful.

        Treat people as if they were what they should be, and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.

  10. Ms Justice
    November 29, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    God forbid we leave out the probation services from the perfect storm. Now they are the protagonists hence the different paragraph.
    What kind of assessment tools do they use that allows them to recommend through videolinks IPP sentences? Is it too much for them to spend some time with the prisoner face to face before they decide on life sentences? Someone needs to look into their draconian methods before more lives are wasted away.

  11. Ms Justice
    November 28, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    So we continue to have the perfect storm. The ambitious prosecution, the police exaggerating, the legal aid (whose rates are so low that they do the absolute minimum for their client) and let us not forget the sensationalist media coverage along with hypocritical politicians. Kenneth Clarke you are brave but there is not enough men like you to understand what it takes to stop re offending and reduce costs.

  12. gwyneth jones
    November 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    this sentence is inhumane families as well as prisoners suffer not knowing when or if ever their loved ones are going to come home and many older people parents etc wonder if they are going to be alive long enough to see that day. Cameron we put you in this job we can easily vote you out pity all the mps guilty of fraud and other offences didnt get ipp cos their actions dont hurt one they hurt the whole of britain .
    may you be judged as harshly by god when your day of judgement come and may you rot in hellalong with the rest of them that back you up .

  13. brenda.jones
    November 28, 2011 at 7:41 am

    totally agree we should all do protest marches on number ten
    until the law is changed over tarriff ipp serving prisoners must be released right away there is no sence in this barbaric and inhuman law we should indeed lock every one in power who supports keeping these prisoners locked up on ipp sentences bet you none of there families would ever get an ipp no matter what they did it would all be hushed up the queen should also intervien to rid our country of this great injustice ken clark be a man and fight for your own beliefs dont be swayed by these politicians there nothing

    • CAR
      November 29, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      i am willing and only waiting for someone who is in the know as to how to set up one of these protests and marches etc. David Cameron is a wimp with no strength of his own and relies and rules on the backs of his equally inefficient colleagues in power. How I wish we could put him and Theresa May in jail with an IPP sentence to see how they would cope. They would crumble at the 1st hurdle because they do not have the balls to stand up for themselves they are weak and frightened individuals who are afraid to upset their colleagues. How weak is our governement and how weak is their leader.

      • Petro
        November 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm

        101% willing to stand up and have my say heard over IPP. A protest, a march, a documentary, as long as the world gets to know what May and David are doing to fellow human beings in their lovely Britain.It’s a shame to want to plough on, on something that has been proved to be useless. With great thought I chose my words accordingly, May and David are so silly!! Yes lets meet on facebook search IPP prisoner and family campaign and we might organise something Brenda Jones. Under Emmerson there are 700+++ whom are willing to do something.

      • mandy
        December 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm

        well said,thay are nasty people with no hart foe any one but there self i would never vote for the likes of them people thay have upset to many lifes but there own….

  14. Ramon1940
    November 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    There are people serving these IPP sentences who have not comitted a crime at all, they have been set up by a evil lying woman who either wanted a big compensation package or wanted to destroy another human being.

    • CAR
      November 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      I agree with you totally. My son had a lynching not a trial and the judge was biased, on a pretty young liar of a girl he was ignorant and a really bad ambassador for the British Justice. MP’s and the Prime Minister, who we voted in and can’t wait to vote him out are living by double standards. Their fraudulent expenses and high living at the whole of british taxpayers should be awarded IPP’s for hurting the already suffering british public. I agree we should all march and protest at parliament about this abhorent handing down of IPP sentences.

  15. naser
    November 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I think someone should lockup david cameron and thresa may as an ipp prisoner so they can taste the fruit of there own political agenda. They dont seem to understand the affect it has on the family and loved ones of an ipp prisoner. These power hungary politicians dont seem to care about who is a real threat to the public yes it is the likes of david and thresa who are taking this country to war and killing the innocent. Why go and finger other countries when your own is in the worst possible situation. Stand up for your rights people or you wont have a country.

  16. Paul
    November 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    How I wish someone would lock up all these damn politicians for a change. Only then would they realise that prison is not the holiday camp that everyone believes that it is.

    • Sue
      November 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      Yes and Mr Cameron might actually find out how many people get locked up with these IPP,s because of someone else,s evil lies and how those lies have destroyed an innocent person,s life.

      • CAR
        November 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

        I agree totally wit the sentiment of the above as my son was locked up with an IPP because of some els’s evil lies.

        • Michael
          February 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

          I have an IPP and i have been out for 2 years. It was bad being in prison with an IPP but dealings with Probation can be trying to say the leased, especially when trying to move one in a productive manner

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