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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

57 IPP prisoners were sentenced to less than 9 months before 2008...all of whom are still in prison. 650 prisoners sentenced before 2008 to an IPP of less than 2 years:

Eight of these prisoners  concerned were given tariffs of less than three months. Twenty-two of them were given tariffs of less than six months;

27, tariffs of less than nine months;

64, tariffs of less than 12 months;

88, tariffs of less than 15 months;

114, tariffs of less than 18 months;

and 327 of them, tariffs of less than 24 months.

That makes 650 in all. The current assessment in relation to 500 of those 650 prisoners is that they present a very low or, at most, a medium risk of reoffending. The question arises as to how that can possibly have been allowed to happen. Those 650 are still in prison six, seven or even eight years after they completed those very short tariffs. How is this justified?’’

Most lawyers regard IPPs as a stain on the justice system, it is just a question of when some minister has the courage to put up with the morning’s bad press
Speaking on the BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ programme he said; “Most lawyers regard IPPs as a stain on the justice system, it is just a question of when some minister has the courage to put up with the morning’s bad press. Getting rid of these IPPs was one of my top priorities. We are considering these proposals and will update on our plans in due course.”
The response from the Government to the Justice Select Committee’s (JSC) report on prison safety, published last May, was so unsatisfactory that the Committee held a debate in Westminster Hall in September.
The government then pledged to produce a Prison Reform and Safety Plan, which so far has not been forthcoming. When pressed about whether his committee supported the Prison Governors Association’s (PGA) call for a Public Inquiry into the state of our prisons Bob Neill MP, a barrister for 30 years and Chair of the JSC said: “What I’d like to see first of all is for the government to produce that Prison Reform and Safety Plan they said they were going to. I think we need that urgently. I’m not sure about a public inquiry being the right way, but I do think there needs to be a public debate. We do have to have a national debate about what our prisons are for and are we getting it right in terms of the number of people we send to prison?
And what we do with them while they are there. I was very keen on the approach that Michael Gove was taking when he was Secretary of State – and I think in fairness, now she has got her feet under the table, Liz Truss is making it clear that she wants to go down the same route. That involves committing some resources from the government. My job as chairman of the Justice Select Committee is to keep up the pressure so they carry on with those reforms.”
I asked him to clarify exactly what a ‘select committee’ is. He explained that each government department has a select committee which shadows that department and acts as a scrutinising and monitoring mechanism on government. The committee is called ‘select’ because its members are selected from across all parties in the House of Commons. The justice committee looks at Justice and the agencies which answer to the Ministry of Justice, i.e. NOMS, the Prison Service, the Probation Service etc. The JSC also oversees the work of the Attorney General, the Solicitors Office and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). And they visit prisons.
Does the committee have any real power to change anything though?  “We work by gathering evidence, holding inquiries,” he says. “All our hearings are in public and broadcast on the Parliament TV channel. At the end of our hearings we publish a report and the rules are that the government is obliged to respond within 60 days. If we’re not happy with that response we can get a debate tabled in the House of Commons.”
But does the committee have any real teeth? “It’s got actual teeth,” he says, “because we have the right to demand that people appear before us, we’ve got the right to ask for the disclosure of papers – we can grill people – and then we’ve got the power to name and shame if you like, which is quite an important power in politics.” Like the PGA, Neill says the JSC is concerned about the way prison officer numbers have dwindled over the past few years. During prison visits Neill says the committee “gets the sense of staff frustration,” and cites the figures. “Last year NOMS recruited about 2200 officers, but because so many had left they were only about 400 better off.” The fact is, I tell him, too many officers have only been in post for less than a year.
“Yes that’s right,” he says. “We’re losing experienced officers. That’s why in our safety report we were calling for an action plan to tackle safety in prisons and that’s got to include issues around staffing. Why aren’t we retaining experienced officers? That’s absolutely critical. If we don’t get satisfactory answers from this Prison Reform and Safety Plan from the Secretary of State then clearly we’re going to push very hard, because that’s fundamental.”
As a Conservative MP, I asked him if his role as Chair of the JSC might be compromised when he might have to be critical of the Conservative
government. Is he afraid of holding back? “All select committees seem to work best when they work cross party and that’s what we seem to do,” he says. “Our report on prison safety for example was agreed by consensus by all members on all sides. We’re there not there purely as party politicians we’re there as a committee to do a job for the House of Commons, holding the executive to account and that applies whichever party is the executive.” So you don’t have any qualms about coming down hard on your Conservative colleagues in power?
“No, not at all. Part of my job is to come down hard. It’s a bit like a judge has to come down without fear or favour if you like. We try and work constructively with government. There’s no point in taking party political pots for the sake of it. A good example is when we were very critical of the Criminal Courts charge that (former Justice Secretary) Chris Grayling introduced. We published a report that was quite damning about that. Michael Gove read it and listened and scrapped it.”
And why was he so unimpressed with the new Justice Secretary, Liz Truss when she appeared in front of the select committee recently? “I personally was disappointed when Michael left as I thought he was committed and clearly passionate about the job. I think perhaps Liz was taking her time to get prepared and ready for the brief. Perhaps she didn’t do herself justice at that appearance. Since then we have had constructive discussion with her and her ministers. We were frustrated because there wasn’t very much information coming out.
Maybe that’s because the new government was playing its cards close to its chest. But our job is to get that information out of them. Now we’re getting more and we need to move on. Now she has said she is committed to the reforms, now they have said that there will be a Prison and Courts Reform Bill, that was one of the uncertainties –
maybe they wanted time to think as to how they scoped it – it just might have been better if they’d said that rather than causing uncertainty. But I hope they’ve learnt a lesson from that, and now if they’re going forward with it, genuinely, then we’ll want to scrutinise that and make sure it delivers on the changes that we need.”
Earlier this year the JSC called for Restorative Justice (RJ), the practice of bringing together victims of crime and those who have offended against them. I asked Neill what led the committee to that conclusion. “As part of the package RJ has got two things to offer. One, it gives victims a say in the process and for some people that can make a real difference in getting over the trauma. It’s also very often constructive for the offender, in bringing them up sharp and bringing them to terms with the human cost of what they have done. It doesn’t work in every type of case, but we think it should be available in the mix. And it’s part of a broader and more sophisticated range of ways in which we punish people. You can link restorative justice with community sentences, and I believe we ought to be trying to reduce the prison population. I think alternatives that are robust are important and restorative justice helps on that and there is evidence that it can reduce reoffending, and that has got to be the key which is in everybody’s interests.”


Benno I  received a sentance of 2 years 82 days and I have never been to cat,d I have been in prison for 10 years now and I just received another 12/24 month knock back. Its ridiculous how I'm being treated I'm a cat,c prisoner in a cat,b jail. . I have 2 co-defendants who both received 2 years straight sentence and one of them got a suspended sentence. But yet here I am 20 years later still serving an IPP sentence. It doesn't exist anymore its psychological torture. I only just turned 18 when I committed my offences I'm now 28 years old I'm gona be at least 30 when I see me progress on my sentence. Feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. i have done my semtance 3 times over and i should not be here Never mind adding on more which should not count asi have been hel here know fault of my own . You have informed the public all those over tariff will be released by 2017 those first being the logest over sentance and all other that are still serving there sentance or those with mental health issues by 2020. Katherine Gleeson who met you at the meeting is awaiting my outcome. 327 of us, tariffs of less than 24 months.
The current assessment in relation we present a very low or, at most, a medium risk of reoffending.
The question arises as to how that can possibly have been allowed to happen. still in prison six, seven and even eight years after they completed those very short tariffs. I have got trapped here  .
The more I sit and think it over the more I don't understand how the MOJ and parole board, are not facing charges or being sued for doing and let's face it, getting away with something that is in every other humane aspect ILLEGAL!! It is unlawful to hold someone in prison for what they MIGHT do it's unlawful to torture a prisoner in Britain, and to their loved ones, let alone just damn right immoral and inhumane! If our loved ones can be imprisoned for their crimes, how on earth is it not applicable for the way the legal bodies behave! Think it's time that us loved ones considered pursuing a way to have them bought before the courts for still implementing and incarrcarating people for a sentence that no longer exists and for almost five years now too!! My other half did put in for compensation after they messed him around for a year with his hearing etc... He got 400 pound!! Legal expenses took that!! joke!! Never mind the mental torture me and our kids have gone through! I wonder of they were pursued for criminal charges for this sentence by enough ppl would it change anything??
Page It all so wrong what there doing two ipp prisons the mh there must be going through there done there time and more let them out full stop god b ap
McSherry I was 3 and a half years over tariff on parole delays alone....apparently you can claim compensation for such delays.....but no one wants to take the cases and fight it.....
Queen 2 years doing 11 years
Stanley 2 years done 8 years
Nokes 15 months  would done 9 years death by suicide December 23


Letter to Liz Truss

Katherine Gleeson
25th November 2016 .
The Rn Honourable Elizabeth Truss
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Ministry of Justice,
102 Petty France, London,
Dear Ms Truss
My name Katherine Gleeson i am founder of IPP petition and family campaign blog
I am writing to request a meeting with you, to discuss the IPP prisoners’ continued incarceration and furthermore the effects on the families. The government has deliberated for years and now it is time to act on the options given and address the injustice of the IPP as a matter of urgency, to end their continued incarceration and the misery suffered as a consequence. The prisoners have suffered enough and are finding the situation intolerable. I am aware of a father who is so desperate he is planning a hunger strike, and others are planning a mass lobby. Sky news has been in contact and German media; however all we want is for the prisoners to come home. I am continuously willing to work with those who are pursuing various options and feel that this issue can be dealt with via the possibilities that are open to you.
I received an invitation by  Nick Hardwick and Martin Jones postdate the 9th August 2016, to discuss the issues arising around IPP prisoners. In advance of this meeting I set up a “write- in” campaign jointly with Inside Times for families and prisoners/staff to discuss the problems and observations and this proved to be successful. Nick Hardwick has informed me he presented those findings to you.
Since then I have also attended the Independent Monitoring Board conference to give an impact statement on how the IPP sentence has affected the families and brought some to the point of break down.
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you. If you are not available, I would be happy to work with your staff to find a more convenient time. I hope your busy schedule will allow you to meet me Katherine Gleeson and Ann Horton (who is the grandmother of an IPP prisoner). Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon or from your office.
Yours Sincerely
Katherine Gleeson






IPP. Unprecedented boom in prisoners taking their own lives in the last 11 months.

English prisons have not seen so many suicides in 2016, they already number 102: that is one every three days, numbers being IPP Prisoners.

The picture painted by the latest statistics of the Howard League for Penal Reform that did not need to wait for year-end to declare a record for deaths behind bars. According to the experts, there are three reasons for the unprecedented boom in prisoners taking their own lives and in the in the last 11 months.

Reason number 1. Budget cuts for prisons and consequential reduction in personnel.
Reason number 2. Overpopulation in prisons. 
Reason number 3. IPP sentence over tariff.  A sentence that gives know hope to prisoners given one.

Last but not least, the lack of an adequate mental health prevention and a treatment programme for more vulnerable prisoners, along with a customised training plan for prison guards that provides them with suitable tools to detect signs of need and danger.

More than 100 people have lost their lives through suicide in prisons in England and Wales so far this year, an all-time record, it can be revealed today (Monday 28 November) as two charities publish new research on how to make jails safer.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has been notified of 102 people dying by suicide behind bars since the beginning of 2016 – one every three days.

With five weeks remaining until the end of the year, it is already the highest death toll in a calendar year since current recording practices began in 1978. The previous high was in 2004, when 96 deaths by suicide were recorded.

Recommendations to tackle the problem are set out in a new report, Preventing prison suicide, jointly published by the Howard League and another charity, Centre for Mental Health.

It is the latest in a series of reports published by the two charities as part of a joint programme aimed at saving lives in prison.

The report states that urgent action is needed, and that prisons must become safer, healthier places to reduce suicide risk.

The report finds that the rise in the number of prison suicides has coincided with cuts to staffing and budgets and a rise in the number of people in prison, resulting in overcrowding. Violence has increased and safety has deteriorated.

Prisoners are spending up to 23 hours a day locked in their cells, the imposition of prison punishments has increased, and a more punitive daily regime was introduced in prisons at the same time as the number of deaths by suicide began to rise.

The prison suicide rate, at 120 deaths per 100,000 people, is about 10 times higher than the rate in the general population.

The report states that investing in staffing must go hand in hand with a reduction in the prison population if prisons are to be made safer.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The number of people dying by suicide in prison has reached epidemic proportions. No one should be so desperate while in the care of the state that they take their own life, and yet every three days a family is told that a loved one has died behind bars.

“Cutting staff and prison budgets while allowing the number of people behind bars to grow unchecked has created a toxic mix of violence, death and human misery.

“This report makes clear that there are practical steps that can be taken to make prisons safer. I am due to meet the Secretary of State for Justice today (Monday 28 November), and I shall be outlining the Howard League’s plan to reduce pressure on the prison system.

“By taking bold but sensible action to reduce the number of people in prison, we can save lives and prevent more people being swept away into deeper currents of crime and despair.”

Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, said: “Every loss of life through suicide is a tragedy for everyone involved.

“Prisoners face a very high risk of suicide and it is essential that prisons and health services work together to prevent loss of life. This requires a fundamental change to the way prisons work, creating an environment that supports wellbeing and helps prison staff to care.

“We must recognise that many prisoners are highly vulnerable and that being imprisoned is a traumatic event that can have devastating consequences without the right help and support.”

A prison regime should be built around a normal life, the report states. People in prison should be able to get up, have a shower and breakfast, occupy themselves productively, socialise and exercise, and go outdoors.

The report calls for the revised Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme, introduced in prisons in November 2013 by the then Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, to be scrapped as “prisoners are being deprived of valuable coping mechanisms at a time when they most need it”.

Some prisoners, including all newly convicted prisoners spending their first two weeks in prison, have limits placed on family contact, physical activity and access to their money and possessions.

The number of deaths by suicide in prisons has risen by 34 per cent since the revised IEP scheme was introduced – from 76 in 2013 to 102 during 2016 so far.

The report recommends that the revised IEP scheme should be replaced with a new incentive scheme that rewards positive behaviour, encourages participation and recognises the needs of the most vulnerable. Maintaining family relationships, physical exercise and socialising with others should be regarded as part of a normal, healthy life, not as privileges that have to be earned.

Placing prisoners in solitary confinement is detrimental to their health and wellbeing and increases the risk of suicide, the report states. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman found that, in 2013-14, eight people took their own lives in prison segregation units, four of whom had been assessed as at risk of suicide and self-harm.

The report states: “Prisoners are being held under segregated conditions for weeks, months and even years. There are no limits on how long a prisoner may be segregated for, nor is there any requirement for the prisoner to be informed of how long he or she will remain in segregation. This engenders a sense of hopelessness.”

The report recommends that prisoners with mental health problems or known to be at risk of suicide should never be placed in solitary confinement.

Suicides in prisons

The number of deaths by suicide in each prison in England and Wales since 2013 is indicated in the table below:

Prison Deaths by suicide per year Total number of deaths by suicide (2013-16*)
2013 2014 2015 2016*
Altcourse 2 2 0 2 6
Ashfield 0 0 0 0 0
Askham Grange 0 0 0 0 0
Aylesbury 0 0 0 0 0
Bedford 1 1 1 4 7
Belmarsh 2 1 1 0 4
Birmingham 3 1 1 0 5
Blantyre House 1 0 0 0 1
Blundeston 1 ** ** ** 1
Brinsford 0 0 1 0 1
Bristol 1 0 2 4 7
Brixton 0 2 0 0 2
Bronzefield 0 0 1 0 1
Buckley Hall 0 0 0 0 0
Bullingdon 2 2 3 1 8
Bure 0 0 0 0 0
Cardiff 1 1 1 1 4
Channings Wood 0 0 0 2 2
Chelmsford 3 1 3 2 9
Coldingley 0 0 0 0 0
Cookham Wood 0 0 0 0 0
Dartmoor 0 0 1 0 1
Deerbolt 0 0 0 1 1
Doncaster 0 2 1 1 4
Dorchester 1 ** ** ** 1
Dovegate 4 0 1 0 5
Downview 1 0 0 0 1
Drake Hall 0 0 0 1 1
Durham 3 2 2 1 8
East Sutton Park 0 0 0 0 0
Eastwood Park 0 0 0 3 3
Elmley 2 5 0 0 7
Erlestoke 0 0 1 0 1
Everthorpe 0 1*** *** *** 1
Exeter 0 3 4 3 10
Featherstone 0 2 0 1 3
Feltham 0 0 0 0 0
Ford 0 0 0 0 0
Forest Bank 1 1 1 0 3
Foston Hall 0 0 3 1 4
Frankland 0 1 0 0 1
Full Sutton 0 1 1 0 2
Garth 0 0 1 2 3
Gartree 0 0 1 1 2
Glen Parva 2 1 2 1 6
Gloucester 1 ** ** ** 1
Grendon 0 0 1 0 1
Guys Marsh 0 0 2 1 3
Hatfield 0 0 0 0 0
Haverigg 0 1 0 1 2
Hewell 3 2 3 1 9
High Down 1 0 1 0 2
Highpoint 1 3 0 0 4
Hindley 0 0 0 1 1
Hollesley Bay 0 0 0 0 0
Holloway 0 1 0 1 2
Holme House 2 2 1 1 6
Hull 0 0 3 2 5
Humber *** 2 0 4 6
Huntercombe 0 0 0 1 1
Isle of Wight 1 0 0 0 1
Kennet 0 0 0 0 0
Kirkham 0 0 0 0 0
Kirklevington Grange 0 0 0 0 0
Lancaster Farms 0 1 0 0 1
Leeds 2 3 2 4 11
Leicester 0 1 1 0 2
Lewes 0 0 0 1 1
Leyhill 0 0 0 0 0
Lincoln 1 0 2 2 5
Lindholme 0 0 0 2 2
Littlehey 0 0 0 0 0
Liverpool 1 4 2 3 10
Long Lartin 1 2 1 0 4
Low Newton 1 0 1 1 3
Lowdham Grange 0 0 0 1 1
Maidstone 1 0 1 0 2
Manchester 1 1 0 4 6
Moorland 0 1 0 3 4
Morton Hall**** 0 1 0 0 1
New Hall 0 1 0 2 3
North Sea Camp 0 0 0 0 0
Northumberland 1 1 1 3 6
Norwich 3 0 2 0 5
Nottingham 1 1 0 2 4
Oakwood 0 0 0 1 1
Onley 0 0 1 0 1
Parc 0 2 0 3 5
Pentonville 1 1 2 2 6
Peterborough 1 2 1 1 5
Portland 1 1 0 1 3
Preston 1 3 0 1 5
Ranby 2 2 4 0 8
Risley 0 2 0 1 3
Rochester 0 0 1 0 1
Rye Hill 0 0 0 0 0
Send 0 0 0 0 0
Spring Hill 1 0 0 0 1
Stafford 0 0 0 0 0
Standford Hill 0 0 0 0 0
Stocken 0 0 1 0 1
Stoke Heath 1 0 1 0 2
Styal 0 0 0 1 1
Sudbury 0 0 0 0 0
Swaleside 0 0 1 0 1
Swansea 0 1 1 2 4
Swinfen Hall 0 1 1 0 2
Thameside 1 0 1 0 2
The Mount 1 1 2 1 5
The Verne**** 0 0 1 0 1
Thorn Cross 0 0 0 0 0
Usk\Prescoed 0 0 0 0 0
Wakefield 0 1 0 0 1
Wandsworth 0 5 3 2 10
Warren Hill 0 0 0 0 0
Wayland 0 2 0 3 5
Wealstun 1 0 1 0 2
Werrington 0 0 0 0 0
Wetherby 0 0 0 0 0
Whatton 0 0 0 0 0
Whitemoor 1 1 0 1 3
Winchester 0 2 4 1 7
Wolds 0 *** *** *** 0
Woodhill 4 2 5 6 17
Wormwood Scrubs 5 1 1 2 9
Wymott 2 1 0 0 3
TOTAL 76 89 89 102 356

*Up to and including 18 November 2016.

**Prison closed.

***Humber prison was created by an amalgamation of Everthorpe and Wolds prisons in 2014.

****Immigration Removal Centre operated by the Ministry of Justice.

(Figures for 2013-15 are from statistical bulletins published by the Ministry of Justice. Figures for 2016 are compiled from notifications received by the Howard League for Penal Reform from the Ministry of Justice.)

What is Liz Truss doing ? 

In her reform she stressed the importance of ensuring ‘we keep on being the people of ideas, people of reform, the people who can help drive our country forward – because we have a big opportunity now to project global Britain.
But what has Liz Truss done so far for Prisoners or the IPP prisoners? The Parole Board has  given her options a way to drive forward  change however she has  continued to do noting while the situation is one of  despair. 

Suicide and violence against prisoners

For Truss, the priorities are identifying prison officers as victims of prisoner violence and protecting prison officer safety, but there is no mention of prison officer violence or prisoner safety, or the truly terrible reality that in the last year we have the highest rate of self-inflicted deaths ever recorded in England and Wales.The data of violence against prisoners by prison officers is much more difficult to record. This is because of the nature of the violence (it could involve violence during restraint procedures) and that prisoners may fear repercussions if they report officer violence. There are also problems regarding whether the prisoner's account will be believed by other prison staff.The data of violence against prisoners by prison officers is much more difficult to record. This is because of the nature of the violence (it could involve violence during restraint procedures) and that prisoners may fear repercussions if they report officer violence. There are also problems regarding whether the prisoner's account will be believed by other prison staff.Throughout her talk – which actually offers little new – there is no mention of the vast evidence going back numbers of years that 'reformed prisons' have never achieved the goals that she aspires too.  know mention of IPP Prisoners  as though the problem never existed.


Monday, 28 November 2016



Lord Beecham Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

  3:01 pm, 22nd November 2016
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the concerns raised by the Chief Inspector of Prisons over the number of prisoners still serving indeterminate terms under the now abolished Imprisonment for Public Protection system, whether they are planning to reduce the number affected; and if so, when.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, this report rightly highlights concerns about the management of IPP prisoners. We are committed to helping the progression of IPP prisoners without compromising either the integrity of the parole process or, importantly, the assessment of risk. We are setting up a central unit to speed up the process, and we are working with the Parole Board to process cases as efficiently as possible.

Photo of Lord Beecham Lord Beecham Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Justice)

My Lords, the issue of imprisonment for public protection has been frequently raised in this House, notably by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. This unfortunate legacy of the Labour Government leaves almost 4,000 prisoners—4.5% of our overcrowded prison population—remaining in prison after serving their prescribed sentence; 40% of them have served five or more years over their tariff. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, the chairman of the Parole Board and Michael Gove have all called for action. What steps are the Government taking, and with what resources, as part of the promised IPP review, and what is the projected date for issuing a report? Or does IPP stand for “inordinately protracted policy-making” at a time of unprecedented problems of violence, disorder and self-harm across our massively overcrowded and understaffed prisons?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I thank the noble Lord for acknowledging the genesis of the problem. No one is disputing that the sentencing system introduced back in 2003 was defective. It is a matter for commendation that that system has now been abolished. However, that does not help us in discussing how best to advance the position of the prisoners within that cohort now affected by that former sentencing system. The noble Lord asked what we are doing: I gently point out to him that the figures are encouraging. He will be aware that the number of releases is increasing and, thankfully, the population within this cohort is diminishing. Those are exactly the trajectories we want to see. He will also be aware that the Government, in conjunction with the Parole Board and the National Offender Management Service, have an action plan that has greatly assisted in mitigating the problem. I remind the noble Lord, however, that we should not lose sight of the context in which people are placed in prison. These prisoners were put there at the decree of the original sentencing court by a judge familiar with the circumstances of the case and of the accused. It is very important that we do not forget the obligation of public safety and that we are clear that any releases must be consistent with a robust risk assessment.

Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the report shows that more than 80% of IPP prisoners were beyond their tariff expiry date, and that three-quarters of these were category C and D prisoners, some of whom were held in local prisons where offending courses are just not available? Will the Government accept the report’s leading recommendation that IPP prisoners should be held in prisons appropriate to their security classification, with facility to support risk reduction and rehabilitation?

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I am not unsympathetic to the general point advanced by the noble Lord. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, improvements are under way. I do not dispute for one moment that there have been delays in the system—everyone acknowledges that—but it is also important to acknowledge the positive steps taken by the Government, the independent Parole Board and the National Offender Management Service. Indications are that improvements are being effected. For example, with effect from today we have revised the statutory Parole Board Rules so that parole panels can release IPP prisoners without progressing to an oral hearing. That is one of a number of measures intended to ensure that prisoners who apply for parole get a proper opportunity for a hearing and a proper assessment of their circumstances. As I said earlier, the overriding consideration must be risk assessment and what is safe for the public.

Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Liberal Democrat

My Lords, the Minister once again emphasises public protection. Is she aware that all the people advocating a change in the system are equally determined to protect the public? Will she confirm that all the measures she announced today will probably still leave more than 2,000 IPP prisoners in custody well into the next decade? Will she acknowledge that this continuation is not only unfair to the individuals but doing real damage to the reputation of our criminal justice system? That is the problem—no one is blaming the Ministers now. I ask her to refer this matter to the Justice Select Committee, to call for evidence that could perhaps get us out of this situation. What she announced today will not.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I say to the noble Lord—and perhaps with greater brevity than his question—that he will be aware that the cohort of prisoners coming within this category have committed serious offences by any definition. He will also be aware that what I described earlier to the noble Lords, Lord Beecham and Lord Wigley, was just one of a number of measures. Many measures have already been taken, including increased resource. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We are seeing a welcome lowering of the trajectory for those detained in prisons, and an increase in the trajectory for those being released. That is the direction of travel we want.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

IPP. Our prisons are broken so is it time to find a new solution?

Last thousands of prison officers engaged in industrial action (or at least that is what critics called it as POs are not actually allowed to strike by law).

The Justice Minister, Liz Truss, is the sixth politician to hold the position, taking over from Michael Gove in Teresa May’s Prime Ministerial reshuffle. None of them have lasted very long:  for Blair’s Labour Charlie Falconer did 3 years, Jack Straw just 2 for Gordon Brown, while Ken Clarke served just over 3 years under Cameron.  Chris Grayling similarly lasted 3 years and Gove barely a year.
This is in the nature of politics – we rarely allow ministers time to understand a role before we move them up or down or on to something else.

More importantly. we might argue,  Liz Truss (like Gove before her) has no experience of the Law, the criminal justice system or of prisons. She is an economist with a recent background at the department of Education and then DEFRA.

But now she is Lord Chancellor of England, an office held by Sir Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey, and famous legal lords such as Thurlow, Erskine, Lougborough, Eldon, Halbury, Haldane, and Viscount Hailsham. Now I don’t wish to suggest Ms Truss might be out of her comfort zone a little, but surely we might expect that one of the most important offices of state to be run but someone who has some experience in it?
This has been a tricky month for the new Lord Chancellor. As well as the strike-that-wasn’t-a-strike Ms Truss has had to face down criticism after two inmates escaped from Pentonville gaol. This followed the murder (in Pentonville) of Jamal Mamoud who was stabbed with a ‘hunting knife’. 200 officers at Pentonville reacted to the attack by issuing a statement of no confidence in the Governor, Kevin Reilly.
 Assaults on inmates are at record highs, assaults on staff are increasing and recent reports suggest many prisons are now close to being out of control.

In a final piece of bad news for the secretary of state the head of the Prison Inspectorate, Peter Clark, this week told her that ‘it was “completely unjust” that offenders serving Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) terms were “languishing in jail”.
So, our prisons are overcrowded, conditions are appalling and prisoners are locked up for 23 hours a day, with little in the way of ‘reform’ or rehabilitation going on.

Meanwhile the tabloid press has been running a series of sensational news stories about the state of discipline and the wide availability of drugs and luxuries in our goals. The picture we have is of a creaking prison service, denuded of staff (after the last administration culled thousands of prison officers). Mr. Gove spoke of making prisons safe and places of reform, Liz Truss seems to want to flip back to seeing them as places of punishment but with continued underfunding they are neither. A spokesperson for the POA (Prison Officers Association) Steve Gillan, said:
“The reality is this government has caused the problem – they’ve cut the staffing levels, they’ve taken so much money out of the system that the system is broken.”
And it’s hard to disagree with him. Let’s take a look back historically to see how this compares with the past, because I believe there are some lessons to be learned here.
It has been 174 years since Pentonville prison opened its cell doors to welcome inmates. It was designed to be England’s first national penitentiary to apply the separate system of prison regime. Prisoners were segregated from each other at all times, kept in solitary confinement and required to wear masks so that identities were unknown and friendships could not be established.

From 1865 the tread wheel and crank broke the spirit of prisoners who were also fed on ‘scientific’ diets designed to almost starve those had just arrived. Plain wooden beds and cold solitary cells, with little exercise helped ensure a lack of sleep and a permanent state of paranoia and confusion. Over the course of the century different forms of hard labour were introduced, as were system of early release and privileges based on a points system. As one contemporary prisoners noted:
‘the English prison is a vast machine in which the inmate counts for nothing at all’.
Prison conditions only really improved in the 1920s when the experience of (often middle-class) men locked up as conscientious objectors to war shocked those that heard about them. Since then a variety of reforms have been tired and have failed, as ministers come and go and politicians try to balance the advice from Prison service staff, the police, judiciary, and charities such as the Howard League with ill-informed critiques offered by the tabloids.

Students who have never been inside a prison frequently tell me they are ‘holiday camps’, that prisoners have it easy, that they shouldn’t have TVs or the opportunity to compete a distance-learning course, or go to a well-equipped gym. This echoes polls amongst the public who react badly to any softening of prison regimes as pandering to the ‘criminal classes’.

The result is the situation we find ourselves in today. When I look at the images published from Guys Marsh gaol (in Dorset) which were described by the Daily Mail as ‘resembling a debauched holiday camp’ what I see is an even older prison than Pentonville. To me the scenes there – where inmates can seemingly act as they wish whilst not be allowed to leave – resemble eighteenth-century Newgate gaol, one of the most notorious prisons in history.

In Newgate condemned men staged mock trials and punished those that broke the set of rules they created. They bought in food and drink (indeed they had a sort of pub on the premises). Their families could visit and even live in if they had the money. There was no work done and precious little education (expect that sometimes the literate ones would teach others basics of handwriting so they might write of appeal against sentences of death).

In an uncanny echo of modern prisoners held under the Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) rules (now abolished) many Georgian prisoners were unable to leave prison even after sentence had been completed (or they had been acquitted at trial) because they could not find the money to pay their ‘garnish’ (their fees for being incarcerated).

The eighteenth-century prison was a disorderly place where money and violence ruled and that is what the nineteenth-century prison reformers wanted to change. Liz Truss has also vowed to improve our prisons, just as Ken Clark did, just as Jack Straw did. Just as ALL governments promise.
But just as they have all promised to do so they will fail. They will fail because they won’t spend the money that is required to keep so many people locked up. They will fail because they will not address the causes of crime in the first place.

Ultimately they will fail just as every prison reform has failed because prison doesn’t work.

The public need to be educated to understand that locking up thieves and drug addicts alongside fraudsters, gang members and murderers is not going to lead to fewer criminals in the short or long term.  More ambitious schemes for rehabilitation, for restorative justice, for bringing offenders face-to-face with their victims, these have more chance of making change.

Alongside this we need to change our drug laws – so many of those inside our prisons are there for drug-related crimes. Legalization or decriminalization could drastically reduce the prison population and crime and release the police to deal with other things. One ex-undercover policeman has set up a charity to campaign for this, and he should know the reality that the fight against drugs has been lost.

 Keep prisons for those that need to be locked up for the public’s protection: imprison the violent, the abusers and terrorists. Spend the money (and it is a huge amount of money) on supporting, educating, and properly rehabilitating offenders outside of gaol.

History shows us that chopping and changing ministers and policy means we have no coherent penal policy and that needs to change. I have no beef with Ms Truss as an person but I can’t see how she is qualified to be in charge of prisons and offender management. And in a year or 2 (or 3) she will be gone and someone else will come and start trying their own solution to the problem.

Meanwhile hundreds more will die in gaol by their own hands or those of others, thousands will come and go in the revolving door that is imprisonment, never reformed and possibly made much worse, and dozens of prison officers will be attacked and hundreds demoralized because no one is brave enough to stand up to the press manipulation of public opinion.
Drew Gray (Lecturer in the History of Crime)


Abbott Agree with every single word

Ward Let them IPPs prisons OUT now
Page Let them out
Mccarthy Spot on.
Maybe because they are a job for life, it's all about money, warehousing them and everyone making money out of the misery and the mental torment the prisoner and there families are going through Here all a bunch of bas...ds, And Lizz truss hasn't got a clue, she has the powers to do something about the situation, and she needs to do it now and release all IPPs over tariff, who have served well over there time for there offences most didn't deserve IPP in the first place, the judges abused the IPP sentence, and I believe gave it to the most vulnerable there all nothing but f/king piss takers.
I now wondering how many ppl was sentenced to ipp for pleading not guilty,then being offered a plea bargain at a very late stage or during the trial as I remember this happened to my son they said if he accepts the plea and pleads guilty he will receive a 2yr senence, with no ipp ,if he doesn't he will receive ipp, this is all good and would have been a good offer IF HE was actually guilty, But if he was Not Guilty surely this is blackmailing him to plead guilty to something he hadn't done, proof they don't give a shit innocent or guilty and the TRUTH of a case just doesn't come into it corrupt to the core.I'd say they are abusing the offer of a plea bargain,frightening ppl into pleading guilty,It saves them money,saves them time,they don't have to go through with trial or call witnesses so if they believe a person will accept there offer,they do not prepare for trial,but what happens when a person refuses the offer??and there in middle of trial??nothing ready,nothing prepared they all cover up for each other,and go bent as hell to get that conviction happened in my sons case.They say you have a right to silence, but then when you go No Comment they presume your Guilty, what a messed up system.They use pure Trickery.If he got 4 yrs, he still was sentenced to 8 yrs, my son was sentenced to 8 yrs, which is 4 yrs with ipp added The Reason I'm asking is I'm sure ive read something, that if they make an offer,And it is written on paper, they cant go back on it, maybe an Appeal Ground,but as I say I cant remember it properly but something like that.
Smith i went guilty from da start in police station to threats to kill, had a pre sent report, got a 16 month ipp. nothing ever said aout ipp, i made a phone call its cost nearly 11 years.
Blanko I Pleaded guilty and got 2 year 26 day tariff served nearly 10 years not been cat,d
Ramshaw My son made no comment so presumption of not guilty, got offered plea for affray however it was then withdrawn. He got 4 yes IPP so far served 11 years. The judge said I would normally sentence to 8 years however he got 4 years IPP instead due to teenage criminal record.
Foster My partner went guilty from the start and handed him self in and the judge said he was lucky he went guilty because if he hadn't he would of got a 6 year normal sentence and would of done 3 years but he said as he went guilty he was giving him credit and sentenced him to two year IPP I wish my partner went not guilty he would of been out with only a three year licence .
Picton Il never say being honest is the best again it took years way from marks freedom .
 Foster My partner went guilty from the start and handed him self in and the judge said he was lucky he went guilty because if he hadn't he would of got a 6 year normal sentence and would of done 3 years but he said as he went guilty he was giving him credit and sentenced him to two year ipp I wish my partner went not guilty he would of been out with only a three year licence xx
Owen She must act, if she doesn't she will get an onslaught of boo's in the house soon. She has to maintain her integrity by setting out a process for dealing with it but she better hurry up. She's not paid over 120 grand a year to dither about scribbling in a colouring book. Get on with it Ms Truss. End the persecution of these people and their families!!!!
O'Mahoney It's just as difficult out on probation too. I have been out nearly 4 years and my co-de six and not much has changed. Still treated like we broke the law last week even though it was 11 years ago with a total of 6 years served (1 yr tariff as 19 year olds).
 Pettit About time Liz Truss stop dithering and dealt with this issue. IPPS need stability in their lives,which they cannot get if they are kept hanging on a string as they are..Why should that happen when they have done their time and have paid for it mentally??.
Abbott The longer our loved ones are inside the more money the fat cats make,they want them to kick of there not arsed as long as they are kept inside
Umm You have done a lot more for us ipp families without this group I would have broken down this has helped me to carry on fighting for this ipp fight so let's keep fighting for the injustices.
 Picton freedom x