A window of opportunity - let your MP know you want them to act at the next Sentencing Bill.
Updated: Feb 21, 2021
Abolishing the IPP sentence retrospectively will require legislative changes. Such changes occur when a new Act of Parliament is passed, to bring the changes into law. The IPP sentence was brought in under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, amended under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, and abolished by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. In the coming months, Parliament is due to debate the new Sentencing Bill, which proposes a range of changes to sentencing and release processes. You can view the Bill here. Unfortunately, the Bill does not propose any changes to the IPP sentence. Therefore, this is a vitally important time to let MPs know that their constituents care about, and are deeply affected by the IPP sentence, and to ask them to push for change when the Bill is going through Parliament.
UNGRIPP believes that the group of citizens with the most political power are the families of someone serving an IPP sentence. Families (and other loved ones) are uniquely victimised by the sentence, having committed no crime, yet suffering its severe consequences. The adverse impact of the IPP sentence on their constituents is something that MPs have a duty to be concerned with, and to raise on their constituents’ behalf.
We are asking families to take advantage of this window of opportunity, and write to their MPS to explain the impact of the IPP sentence on them, and to ask them to support specific changes to the IPP sentence, via the Sentencing Bill. We understand that telling stories repeatedly is painful, and can feel pointless if it does not lead to change. We cannot guarantee this will be any different. But we strongly believe that the course of action which stands the greatest chance of success is continued political engagement, and it is rare for such a window of opportunity to arise. We are therefore encouraging families to act now. To make the process as easy as possible, we have created a new template MP letter with specific reference to the Sentencing Bill and relevant legislative changes, which you are welcome to use. It also encloses information on the IPP sentence for MPs who may not yet be familiar with it, and to save you having to explain.
1. Check who your MP is. MPs are duty bound to respond to their constituents, so please only write to the MP for your area. Numbers matter, so if there is more than one family member who would like to help, send one letter each.
2. Download and fill in our template letter. This letter has been constructed specifically to address the Sentencing Bill, and to make writing as easy and convenient as possible for you. All you need to do is replace the bolded parts with your information. However, you are free and encouraged to amend it in such a way that it represents your own views.
3. Send the letter. The MP’s page that you accessed at Step 1 will have their postal (at Westminster); phone, and email details. Email is best if you can, so the MP can easily access the further information links in the part explaining the IPP sentence.
4. (Optional) Let us know about it. Sending a letter is the most important thing, but it is helpful to UNGRIPP to know how many letters have been sent, and to which MPs. So if you want to, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us you’ve sent something.
5. We’re here to offer further support if needed. MPs have a duty to respond to you, but responses will vary. If your MP invites you to engage further and you want some help with how to do that, you are welcome to get in touch with us. We have a lot of experience of engaging with political figures, and are happy to support you. Just email us.
We will post updates on any relevant parliamentary activity over the coming months. We would like to thank each and every person who continues to speak up about the IPP sentence, and assure you that we will continue to do so. While we believe that families stand the best chance of being heard in the current climate, we always warmly welcome any member of the public who is concerned about the IPP sentence, taking the time to write to their MP as well, by adapting either this letter or using our standard letter. In being united in calling for change, we have the best chance of seeing it happen.