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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

I was the first IPP prisoner/ When was the IPP sentence actually made?/ Law Solicitors and Barristers

I was the first IPP prisoner

Every month when I read Inside Time I hear about frustrated prisoners serving IPP sentences who are over tariff through no fault of their own. Well, I have to feel their pain. I was the first prisoner to receive an IPP sentence back in 2005, but in 2008 it was overturned at the Court of Appeal and changed to a determinate sentence, which was the best day of my life. I just want to reach out to those who are serving IPP sentences, particularly those who were sentenced around 2005, 06, 07 when judges were handing out IPPs like sweets to a baby with no real merit. If your crime did not cause serious physical or psychological harm to anyone or has been proved to have left the victim with mental health problems then your sentence is UNLAWFUL. It does not matter about your previous convictions the sentence is unlawful and therefore you have grounds to appeal on that basis alone. So do not give up your appeals no matter how long it has been since you were sentenced. I also feel for all the families who were told that IPP was going to be scrapped, only to find it did not affect those who had already been sentenced to IPP, I thought this was disgusting and an insult to those families. Do not give up on your appeals.

When was the IPP sentence actually made?
A. April 2005 to November 2005 This is the era when the impact of IPP sentencing was barely glimpsed, yet alone understood or felt. The original legislation, the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which came into effect in April 2005, made an IPP sentence mandatory in all but a small number of cases where there was, or might have been, a rebuttable assumption, i.e. the Court will assume you are dangerous unless ‘it is unreasonable to do so’.
In our opinion, initially at least, the Courts were exceedingly slow in appreciating that individuals would often spend a great deal of time within the prison estate, post tariff, as a result.
There was little or no extra resource put into the prison system e.g. via Courses, and it was far from unknown for Courts in those early days to not scrutinise the meaning of the words e.g. ‘rebuttable assumption’, or for defence teams to instruct a suitably qualified expert to validly assess risk.
In fact many early IPP offenders did have a previous qualifying offence on their record i.e. an offence that was classified as ‘serious’ or ‘specified’, which included the vast majority of sexual and violent offences. Such an offence could well have occurred many years earlier, and in our view Courts and their advisers were often remiss in not enquiring enough, about why some individuals did not reoffend for long periods.
As a result many cases progressed to IPP Sentence without issues of risk and seriousness being fully and adequately considered and tariffs were often exceedingly short, in some cases down to a few months or even 28 days.

B. December 2005 to July 2008 In November 2005, the Court of Appeal was able to consider 13 separate cases which, taken together, produced what is now known as the Lang judgement.
This judgement encourages and requires careful consideration of a number of issues which are both legal and psychological. These are mainly as follows –

i. It decouples the concept of significant risk i.e. the risk of re-offending which may indeed involve the commission of further offences with, on the other hand, the risk of causing serious harm as a result.
The judgement also encourages the Sentencing Court to identify the intention behind the index offence and in the same judgement, paragraph 8, requires Sentencing Courts to foresee what might be caused in the future.

ii. It therefore requires historical reconsideration of the legitimacy of an IPP sentence, and to consider very carefully indeed, those cases where serious harm has not been caused, e.g. by the avoidance of use of a weapon within a violent incident, and where, perhaps, the same pattern of offending had been demonstrated on previous, perhaps many, occasions.

Indeed it is important to note that even on the subject of weapon use or not, the sentence in the case of Hassan Abdi i.e. number 2 within the Lang Judgement, was marked by a quashing of a life sentence, no less, with the replacement of that with a determinate sentence even though a knife was actually carried, albeit concealed, within the offending spree.
C. July 2008 to the Present In July 2008 there was a major revision of the IPP Legislation. The law changed from making an IPP almost mandatory, to allowing Sentencing Courts to impose any sentence that they saw fit. In addition a minimum tariff of 2 years was set, but this could be shorter, again if there was a previous qualifying offence.

In our view, this moment marks a period where there was increasing awareness of the very large number of IPP sentenced prisoners, and the mismatch between them and the means by which they could demonstrate to the Parole Board that their risk has been reduced i.e. mainly Courses.

We believe that it is fair to say that Courts were applying more scrutiny to the need for an IPP, and of course, at around this time, the application to the European Court in the names of James, Wells and Lee, was beginning to have an influence.

All this combines to make appealing IPPs, handed down after July 2008, more difficult, but in our experience there are at least two rays of hope:

 If your IPP was on the basis of simply, and only, a Probation Report, this can sometimes be challenged, in that a Pre-Sentence Report.

Writer may not have had the time, the experience, skills, or access to the relevant research, in order to thoroughly advise the Courts.

Of course, if the Sentencing Court did commission its own report, on which it then chose to rely, that does make life more difficult. However in our experience, those cases are few and far between.

We are definitely of the view that Defence Teams were very remiss if they did not instruct an Independent Psychologist, at the very least, quite possibly also a Psychiatrist, to assess risk. We very much hope that the above advice may be of assistance.

 Law Solicitors and Barristers

We are Expert Prison Law Solicitors and Barristers and ... we were successful in achieving open conditions for one IPP prisoner who had extensive security .

 following that victory another IPP prisoner with a 9 month tariff has already served 3 years; ... securing his release.

 IPP/PAROL ADVICE: REVIEWS, REPRESENTATION AND APPEALS LAWTON CRIMINAL SOLCITORS  We are Expert Prison Law Solicitors and Barristers and ... we were successful in achieving open conditions for one IPP prisoner who had extensive security ..

... we offer continued expert legal representation in prison law. ... on your behalf to support the down grade in your security ... IPP prisoners, ... We employ the services of specialist lawyers dedicated to protecting the rights of the prisoner, experienced in offering comprehensive advice and assistance on matters including sentence planning, categorisation, adjudications, recall, parole hearings and resettlement matters including licence conditions.

provides legal advice and representation to prisoners serving Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPP).We have conducted numerous appeals against IPP sentences but our work in this area is concentrated on helping clients to progress through their sentence towards release. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Journalist Maeve McClenagham is working on some long-term research into IPP sentencing, and would like to hear from you.

Maeve McClenaghan   contacted us  particularly in light of cuts to prisons.A freelance journalist working on some long-term research into IPP sentencing  He said  I have collected a lot of new and interesting data on the subject but am not looking for the personal stories- the most important part of this whole tale.

He stated if someone you know has received an IPP sentence and is struggling to get released I'd love to talk to you- this can be off the record for now, I just want to get as much insight into ...this issue as possible. I am particularly interested in anyone charged with a fairly minor assault/ burglary or other non-violent crime (not that IPP is reasonable in any circumstance of course!)
If you're up for a quick, off the record chat, please do get in touch:
You can see examples of my previous work here:
Notice ! Regarding any journalist Always agree  some form of contract between both parties  on the final write up !

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

If you have a Ipp and a learning diffrence,"trapping me for life!....

If you had an  ipp on top of a learning difference you are punished for having a disability leaving you a prisoner  trapped for life.

Can you understand this injustice, can you sit by

Voices not heard
People with learning difficulties or disabilities do not get their voices heard. I have an unseen disability, dyslexia, and a low IQ of 65, this is indicative of mild mental retardation or mild learning disability. This means I find it hard to communicate or express myself and I also have language difficulties, it is hard for me to take information and hold it in my memory.

People with learning difficulties are more likely to have medical conditions related to anxiety, depression and mood disorders. We also have a high level of suicide. To the prison system people like me are labelled as ‘bad’ or ‘manipulative’ or other negatives, but we find it harder to follow rules and our emotional levels are higher, we usually end up in the block. I believe that having this disability has shaped my life. From a young age I was in a school for kids with learning difficulties and behavioural problems – now I’m in the criminal justice system there is not much for someone like me to do. My IQ level means I cannot be considered for offending behaviour courses, which means I will spend much longer in prison.

There are only 3 prisons that run a TC (Therapeutic Community) Plus, which is a 3 year programme for people with low IQ and learning difficulties. The first one has been running at HMP Dovegate for around 2 years, so we still don’t know if the programme works as nobody has completed it yet. If you would like more information on learning disabilities contact the Prison Reform Trust and ask for their report on people in prison with learning difficulties written by Jenny Talbot.


IPP ,Cardiff Protest Chwalwch On Saturday the 4th of April 2015

At 2pm the group gathered at the Aneirin Bevan statue on Queen Street. We were joined by friends and family members prisoners under the IPP sentence. We stayed at the statue for about an hour handing out leaflets and talking to the public about IPP sentences as it is not a very well known subject.

We then marched down queen street with black flags and banners. Everyone, including children who were marching with us, took turns chanting “Smash IPP, Set them Free” and “Our Passion for Freedom, is Stronger then their Prisons”.

We arrived at the prison entrance where we were joined by others who were visiting loved ones in prison. We continued to chant things like “Freedom for all, Tear Down the Walls”. We then we went to the top floor of the a nearby car park where there was good visibility. We could see the prison cell and the the prisoners could see us.
We hung banners, chanted and communicated with people in the prison. The friends, families and demonstrators kept were still chanting, “Give them a Date, Set them Free, Smash IPP!”. The prisoners themselves sent us signals of their support and asked us to return.

There will be more events like this in future. anti-authoritarians as well as the loved ones of IPP prisoners. We have chosen to stand against IPP because it is one of the most blatant abuses by the state of the “justice” system in order to punish those it deems criminals, while some of the worst crimes of all are begin committed by the cops, judges and screws.

Solidarity to all persons in prison and those who’s lives are affected by the prison system, including all those in the racist detention centers of the UK. All in all, it was a successful demonstration, there was a good atmosphere and no police presence.

This allows the court to add time onto an existing prison sentence often for minor crimes and therefore pushing back the release date indefinitely. This means that IPP prisoners live under the constant mental torture of having no release date. It was abolished in 2012, however this was not done retrospectively leaving more then 5000 people in jail for a non existing law with no release date.