Extracts from PRT BROMLEY BRIEFING: INDETERMINATE SENTENCES
Extracts from PRISON REFORM TRUST BROMLEY BRIEFINGS: PRISON FACTFILE, July 2010 http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/uploads/> documents/FactFileJuly2010.pdfIntroduction [extract]
The sentencing review should rationalise the rafts of new offences and mandatory penalties much criticised by judges and magistrates and examine the explosion in indeterminate sentencing – from 3,000 indeterminate sentences in 1992 to 12,822 in March 2010.
Section on Indeterminate Sentences [pp15 ff]
On 4 June 2010, there were 6,189 prisoners serving IPP [Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection] sentences. On 19 January 2010, 2,468 of those sentenced to imprisonment for public protection were being held beyond their tariff expiry date.  By 5 February 2010 there were 476 people serving IPP sentences who were two years or more over tariff expiry. Since 2005 just 133 people serving IPP sentences have been released from custody, 33 of whom have been recalled. Changes have been made to the legislation – which came into effect on 14 July 2008 – limiting the availability of IPP sentences to those with a minimum tariff of two years and over. This should reduce the numbers sentenced to an IPP by up to an estimated 30%. However, those sentenced to an indeterminate sentence are likely to stay well beyond tariff.
Many people given an IPP sentence under the old legislation, subsequently amended, are still in custody.
On 9 October 2009, there were 1,225 people serving IPP sentences who were being held beyond their tariff of two years or less. The average time this group has been held beyond tariff was 486 days.
As of 16 December 2009 over half of those IPP prisoners who were over tariff were still awaiting a Parole Board review of their case or a decision from a review. 
On 19 January 2010, of the 2,468 people being held beyond tariff, 466 had completed no accredited offending behaviour programmes. 34% of the total number of people serving IPP sentences had not completed an accredited programme. HM Chief Inspectors of Prisons and Probation have stated that ‘the current situation is not sustainable. IPP prisoners now constitute around one in 15 of the total prison population … Even with the recent changes in legislation, these numbers far exceed the capacity of the probation service and the prison system (and the Parole Board for that matter) to deliver the necessary quality of service’.
HM Chief Inspectors of Prisons and Probation have described those serving IPP sentences as ‘prisoners with many and complex needs, including mental health, learning disability and a risk of self-harm’.
Nearly one in five IPP prisoners have previously received psychiatric treatment, while one in 10 is receiving mental health treatment in prison and one in five is receiving medication. One IPP prisoner in 20 is, or has been, a patient in a special hospital or regional secure unit. Data from the Prison Service’s Safer Custody Group also confirm that IPP prisoners have a raised incidence of selfharm. 
Three people serving IPP sentences took their own lives in 2009.
Nearly 80% of IPP sentences for women surveyed by the Chief Inspectors of Prisons and Probation were for offences of arson, which is often an indicator of serious mental illness or self-harm. 
According to HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, many IPP prisoners remain unclear about the implications of their sentence. The Prison Service has not produced any information specifically for IPP prisoners.
There is a significant shortage of accredited offender behaviour programmes for IPP prisoners, especially in local prisons. Only 68% of IPP prisoners have accessed at least one accredited offending behaviour programme. Many IPP prisoners attend their Parole Board hearing with little or nothing to show for their time in prison.
Prisoners whom staff consider to be unsuitable to participate because of mental illness or emotional instability are often excluded from taking part in programmes entirely. 
Research by the Prison Reform Trust has found that there are a significant number of prisoners who, because they have a learning disability or difficulty, are excluded from aspects of the prison regime including offending behaviour programmes.  A report by HM Chief Inspectors of Prison and Probation described this predicament – prisoners being unable to access the interventions they needed to secure their release as ‘kafka-esque’. The Joint Committee on Human Rights found, in response to evidence submitted by PRT, that ‘people with learning disabilities may serve longer custodial sentences than others convicted of comparable crimes’. The report went on to say that ‘this clearly breaches Article 5 ECHR (right to liberty) and Article 14 ECHR (enjoyment of ECHR rights without discrimination)’.
According to HM Chief Inspectors of Prison and Probation, ‘life-sentenced prisoners, too, were increasingly angry and frustrated as short-tariff IPP prisoners were prioritised for scarce courses and programmes’. 
154. Hansard HC, 21 June 2010, c53W 155. Hansard HC, 26 January 2010, c732W
156. Hansard HC, 9 February 2010, c945W 157. Hansard HC, 21 June 2010, c53W
158. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, HM Chief Inspector of Probation (2008) The indeterminate sentence for public protection, London: HMIP
159. Letter from Lord Bach to Baroness Stern, 23 January 2010
160. Letter from Maria Eagle MP to Andrew Stunnell MP, 19 January 2010
161. Hansard HC, 26 January 2010, c732W
162. Criminal Justice Joint Inspection (2010) Indeterminate sentences for public protection: A Joint Inspection by HMI Probation and HMI Prisons, London: CJJI
163. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, HM Chief Inspector of Probation (2008) The indeterminate sentence for public protection, London: HMIP
164. Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2008) In the dark: The mental health implications of imprisonment for public protection, London: Sainsbury Centre
165. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, HM Chief Inspector of Probation (2008) The indeterminate sentence for public protection, London: HMIP
166. Hansard HC, 8 March 2010, c97W
167. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, HM Chief Inspector of Probation (2008) The indeterminate sentence for public protection, London: HMIP
168. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales (2008) Annual Report 2006/2007, London: HMIP
169. Correspondence from National Offender Management Service, 6 November 2009
170. Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2008) In the dark: The mental health implications of Imprisonment for Public Protection, London: Sainsbury Centre 171. Ibid.
172. Talbot, J. Written evidence submitted by Prison Reform Trust to Joint Committee on Human Rights: The Human Rights of Adults with Learning Disabilities, 2007
173. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, HM Chief Inspector of Probation (2008) The indeterminate sentence for public protection, London: HMIP
174. Joint Committee on Human Rights (2007-08) A life like any other? Human rights of adults with learning disabilities, London: The Stationery Office
175. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, HM Chief Inspector of Probation (2008) The indeterminate sentence for public protection, London: HMIP
[Note: The full Prison Reform Trust Bromley Briefing Prison Factfile from which these extracts are taken can be read on the PRT website at
and can be downloaded from there. Emphasis is in the original.]