There has been much improvement for ISP/IPP prisoners since the sentence was abolished in December 2012. Several people from the IPP Campaign Face Book pages have posted letters from their MPs or from the Justice department where it is clearly stated that IPPs are given priority when it comes to courses AND that (and maybe more importantly) approved courses ARE NOT the only way to show compliance with sentence and/or reduced risk. There are other ways to do this including doing vocational courses. More ISP /IPP prisoners are being re-categorised and thus working their way towards open conditions – the final test before release.
· For example; Chris Grayling responded below to a question that one FB Group member submitted to an open question debate earlier this year: “prisoners currently ... serving IPP sentences will not be released unless the Parole Board authorises it, as now. However, I know there is concern that those currently serving IPP sentences should be supported in progressing through their sentence and reducing their risk. We will be using our best efforts to improve the progression of these prisoners through sentence, including improvements to assessment, sentence planning and delivery, and parole review processes and will continue to monitor outcomes to ensure further improvements in this area.”
· Despite this, there are people over tariff who achieved everything they have been asked to yet still are not released. We want the government to review these cases and release these people where they are no longer perceived to be a risk to the public. (We know this excludes individuals who have not complied with their sentence plans, or have related adjudications which have gone against again them, or have not complied in other ways; from this group).
· Despite the improvements outlined above, for many ISP/IPP prisoners’, progression through their sentence is still too slow; and where this can be improved by providing more courses; programmes and alternative activities, or more Parole Board hearings we would ask that this is done. Keeping people in prison unnecessarily is costly to the taxpayer; to the State, and emotionally costly to the prisoners’ themselves and their families.
· We feel that the courses ISP/IPP prisoners are required to undertake and complete are not always suitable for every prisoner. The 'one size fits all' isn't always the best for everyone. Some prisoners have learning difficulties, literacy problems or emotional problems. In these cases it might be better to offer education, support and counselling rather than extra courses to help them progress through the system and complete their sentence plan. Group learning isn't the best situation for everyone either, some people may benefit from individual lessons. Understandably, the needs of the prisoner must be a priority, on release they may cope better and have a lower risk of re-offending if they come out genuinely improved and better educated than when they went in and not just able to complete a course because they've been made to.
· Parole Board hearings should be more transparent. That is, there should be clear communication to the ISP/IPP prisoner about why they haven’t been re-categorised or recommended to open conditions or for release. By doing this ISP/IPP prisoners’ know what is expected of them and prisoners’ families can support them in these renewed expectations.
· The Government wants to save £4,000.000 by removing legal aid to serving prisoners. The changes to legal aid means there will be less legal representation for ALL prisoners including ISP/IPPs. As the Intervene Project has written:
“ ...it has been proposed that they (prisoners including ISP/IPPs) should not have access to legal representation in most areas and that they will have to rely on the internal complaints procedure in all circumstances excluding parole reviews, external adjudications and miscalculated release dates. At the same time, they will be prevented from mounting challenges by judicial review. This leaves them in the hands of the Prison and Probation Ombudsman which has been frequently criticised. The Ombudsman does not have capacity to deal with urgent matters, their recommendations are not binding and they cannot substitute the court as an alternative remedy for prisoners.” So, there will be no legal representation via legal aid for our ISP/IPPs for re-categorisation or pre-tariff reviews. ISP/IPPs are a particularly vulnerable group of prisoners and will be particularly hard hit by these changes.
· We have concerns about the life licence conditions on release for ISP/IPP prisoners. 10 years licence is the statutory minimum. The Parole Board can agree to remove these licence conditions after this period and the ISP/IPP can reapply yearly thereafter, if refused, initially. Most other sentenced prisoners’ licence expires at half or two thirds of their tariff (depending upon when they were sentenced). If people on an ISP/IPP sentence have been released; they have been deemed no longer a risk to the public, then their licence conditions should be the same as other prisoners on determinate sentences, with only a few exceptional cases.
· Finally, we have concerns about the high numbers of recalls for ISP prisoners.
IPP GROUP https://www.facebook.com/groups/katherinegleeson17/