My name is Joanne Hibbert and my partner Ian Hartley is currently serving an IPP sentence. He was originally given a tariff of 2years and 348days and is currently in his thirteenth year of imprisonment.
Sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs) were created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and started to be used in April 2005. They were designed to protect the public from serious offenders whose crimes did not merit a life sentence. Offenders sentenced to an IPP are set a minimum term (tariff) which they must spend in prison. After they have completed their tariff they can apply to the Parole Board for release.
David Blunkett brought in the IPPs in 2003 when he was the Home Secretary. However, in the years that followed, Mr Blunkett, who was Home Secretary from 2001 to 2004, told BBC Newsnight that while he believed the legislation had been “necessary to safeguard the public”, he “very much regrets” that the government was not clearer in setting out sentencing criteria for judges.
This was highlighted in Ian’s case when he was originally given the IPP, and was told to return to court three days later as the Judge sentencing him was actually unaware of what an IPP was and why he was being given it.
Every day is a constant struggle for both Ian and my family. He lives in constant fear from prisoners and guards as he has had so many bad experiences with them. All courses he has been asked to attend as part of the IPP, he has adhered to and has co-operated fully with anything asked of him. The probation service has backed him several times for rehabilitation within the community, but on each occasion they have found reason as to why he should not be allowed it and then withdrew from their backing. There is clearly an injustice between the prisoners and the probation service because the officers are uneducated and misunderstood as to what the prisoner’s needs are.
Myself and others are desperate in our plight to have our loved ones released from these inhumane sentences. I attended a protest outside the Houses of Parliament on the 5th July 2017, where along with others I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to meet with Martin Jones from the Parole Board in the parliament rooms. He was very interested in what our views were and himself admitted that he did not agree with the IPPs. Then on the 8th July 2017 I attended a protest outside HMP Risley where Ian is currently serving his sentence. Wales online covers the story of the IPPs and Nick Hardwick, CEO of the Parole Board, also has strong views on IPP sentences. There are various articles on his opinion and how he believes it is wrong that so many people are still serving these sentences.
We are doing these protests in the hope we can raise public understanding of the IPP sentences and how the justice system has locked up these people and simply forgotten about them, despite IPP sentences being abolished in 2011.
There is another protest organised for the 23rd July 2017 at HMP Peterborough and one on the 3rd August 2017 outside Preston Probation Office. People can also show their support of my plight by signing a petition I have set up www.tinyurl.com/y8mhjv3r Anyone with a heart can see that justice is clearly not being served for both Ian and the other 4000 prisoners still serving an IPP sentence.