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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

The Prison Reform Trust and the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at King’s College London have called for an urgent review of the social and financial costs and benefits of the controversial indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP).

The IPP sentence was created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The sentence enables the courts to imprison for an indefinite period those convicted of violent and sexual offences who are deemed to be dangerous, but whose offending is not so serious that they qualify for a life sentence.

Around 6,000 people have received the sentence since it was implemented in April 2005; about 2,500 of these are currently being held in custody beyond expiry of their minimum term in custody, or ‘tariff’.

In the report's foreword, Lord Hurd of Westwell argues that:

"A prison system in which over 2,500 people are held well beyond tariff loses legitimacy in the eyes of those charged with its management and the public. The authors do not fight shy of the difficulties inherent in striking a balance between fairness and public protection. It is clear from their report that a better balance must be struck.

Professor Mike Hough at the Institute for Criminal Policy Research led an investigation into the IPP sentence and its implementation. His research, which was supported by the Nuffield Foundation, concluded:

  • The IPP was poorly planned and implemented.
  • Projections about levels of use of the IPP were inadequate and, as a consequence, the resources required to implement the sentence were far too limited.
  • The ability to predict the risk posed by those convicted of violent and sexual offences was over-estimated.

The report, Unjust deserts: Imprisonment for public protection, by Jessica Jacobson and Mike Hough is available from the Prison Reform Trust. The report unequivocally concludes that:

"The sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection must count as one of the least carefully planned and implemented pieces of legislation in the history of British sentencing."

The authors identifiy three main policy options:

  • To abolish the IPP sentence, and revert to the use of the discretionary life sentence to deal with those who genuinely pose a grave risk to society.
  • To retain the IPP sentence but further narrow its criteria, to ensure that it is used less often, and targeted more carefully on those representing a real risk of serious reoffending.
  • To leave the current arrangements in place, but locate sufficient resources to enable the Prison Service and Parole Board to operate release from the sentence in an effective, humane and fair way.