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Closed petition Provide for resentencing for everyone serving an indeterminate prison sentence

We call upon the UK Government to recognize and safeguard the human rights of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) inmates, by enabling them to be resentenced so indeterminate sentences can be replaced.

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The current system has led to prolonged detention beyond initial tariffs, subjecting individuals to what we regard as psychological torture and exacerbating mental health crises.

The IPP continues to cause severe mental degradation. We believe this constitutes a violation of their human rights.

We implore the Government to make provision for the review of all cases, in a way which acknowledges the toll inflicted by prolonged detention and ensures fair, humane, and rehabilitative sentences. Action is needed to end this nightmare, affording all the dignity and rights they deserve.

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

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Government responded

This response was given on 15 February 2024

Retrospectively changing the lawfully passed sentence would risk public protection. It is vital that those serving the IPP sentence in prison are released only when the Parole Board deems them safe.

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The issue of IPP sentences remains a top priority for the Lord Chancellor and His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). The Government believes that the Justice Select Committee (JSC) report into the IPP sentence provided a valuable opportunity to take stock and identify areas for improvement which will make a genuine difference to the way that those serving IPP sentences are rehabilitated and supported through safe release, or licence termination, where appropriate.

The JSC recommended undertaking a full resentencing exercise of all remaining IPP offenders. The Government’s view is that retrospectively changing the sentence which was lawfully passed would expose the public to an unacceptable risk. It would inevitably result in the release of many offenders who have committed serious sexual or violence offences, in many cases not even with a period of licensed supervision. It is vital for public protection that those serving the IPP sentence in prison, whether unreleased or recalled following release, are released only when the Parole Board decides that they may be safely managed in the community.

We have amended the Victims and Prisoners Bill to:

a. reduce the qualifying period that triggers the duty to refer an IPP licence to the Parole Board for termination from ten years to three years;

b. include a clear statutory presumption that the IPP licence will be terminated by the Parole Board at the end of the three-year qualifying period;

c. introduce a provision that will automatically terminate the IPP licence two years after the three-year qualifying period in cases where the Parole Board has not terminated the licence and where the offender has not been recalled in the two-year period; and

d. introduce a power to amend the qualifying period by Statutory Instrument.

These amendments will restore greater proportionality to IPP sentences by reducing the qualifying period from 10 years to three years and providing a clear pathway to a definitive end to the licence and, therefore, the licence.

By changing the qualifying period to three years and introducing an automatic provision thereafter, we have gone further than the JSC’s recommendation to reduce the qualifying period from 10 years to five years.

We are focused on the rehabilitation of IPP prisoners via a refreshed IPP Action Plan, which remains the best option to support offenders progress towards a safe and sustainable release. The Action Plan will ensure that those in custody, whether unreleased or recalled, have access to a sentence plan tailored to their individual needs and are held in a prison which provides the programme, intervention or service specified in their sentence plan. We are committed to ensuring the Plan delivers tangible change by safely reducing, over time, the IPP population both in custody and the community, whilst still prioritising public protection.

We are also committed to improving the outcomes for people with mental health needs, including those serving IPP sentences, and recognise the importance of providing the right interventions at the right time. Health and justice partners have committed to providing an equivalent standard, range and quality of healthcare in prisons to that available in the community.

If a prisoner has a severe mental health need to an extent that detention under the Mental Health Act may be appropriate, they will be referred and assessed clinically to determine whether transfer to a mental health hospital is warranted. To receive treatment under the Act, two separate assessments are required to determine whether the patient meets the detention criteria. We are determined to ensure these transfers take place in a timely manner. Working closely with our health and justice partners, we will continue to drive forward work to introduce a non-statutory independent role designed to improve oversight and monitor delivery of the 28-day time limit set out in NHS England’s good practice guidance.

The actions we are taking are working: the number of prisoners serving the IPP sentence who have never been released now stands at 1,227 as of 31 December 2023, down from over 6,000 in 2012.

Ministry of Justice