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The Justice Select Committee IPP Inquiry: Summary of Recommendations

The Justice Select Committee has published its inquiry report today. We know how anxiously those serving the sentence and their families have been waiting for this moment. Our priority is making sure you know the facts, amidst the public commentary and emotion that the report is bound to provoke. We will produce a more detailed summary of the report soon, but here is the most important part: the Committee’s recommendations.


The Committee’s main recommendation is that everybody serving an IPP should be resentenced. It also made 21 other recommendations, if the IPP remains in existence.


What recommendations did the Committee make?


The Committee concluded that even though there are ways to improve how the IPP sentence works, there is no way to truly fix it, and it is “irredeemably flawed”. Their main recommendation is a resentencing exercise. That means that everybody serving IPP would be individually resentenced by a judge, to a sentence available under current sentencing law. They stated that a resentencing exercise should follow these principles:


  1. Balancing public protection with justice.

  2. Protecting the independence of judges.

  3. Ensuring that nobody receives a harsher sentence than IPP.

  4. Appoint an independent panel to implement the resentencing exercise.


Resentencing was the Committee’s main recommendation, but it also made 21 other recommendations, if the IPP sentence were to stay in place:


In prison:

  1. An improved IPP action plan by the Ministry of Justice.

  2. The system must acknowledge the psychological harm caused by IPP, and how it stops people progressing.

  3. Make sure people serving IPP are held in appropriate category prisons.

  4. Improving resettlement services for people without a release date.



Mental health:

  1. Improved mental health support for people serving IPP.

  2. Better support for people who return to prison from secure hospitals.

  3. The evaluation of the Offending Personality Disorder pathway should be published by December 2022.



Offending behaviour programmes:

  1. Reduce waiting lists for offending behaviour programmes.

  2. Ensure offending behaviour programmes deliver good outcomes, and review them if they don’t.



Parole Board:

  1. The Parole Board should prioritise people serving IPP.

  2. Parole Board members should receive training on the impact of the sentence.

  3. Only trained and experienced Parole Board members should do hearings for people serving IPP.

  4. Better support from Community Offender Managers to prepare for Parole hearings.

  5. COMs should have more contact before Parole hearings.



In the community:

  1. Reducing the period people must wait for a review of their IPP licence from 10 years after their first release, to five years after their first release.

  2. An in-depth examination of how to reduce the number of IPP recalls.

  3. Increasing the number of spaces available in Approved Premises.



Recall:

  1. Only using emergency recalls as a last resort.

  2. Oral hearings within two months of recall (when the recall is not for committing an offence).

  3. Probation must attend recall hearings.

  4. Annual Parole reviews for people on recall.



Does UNGRIPP support the Committee’s recommendations?


Yes. UNGRIPP’s three campaign goals have always been resentencing, reform of the IPP licence, and better support for people serving IPP and their families. These are what most families tell us they want to happen, and are most important. All three goals are covered by the Committee’s recommendations. We think that the report is the best result we could have hoped for, and that the inquiry seems to have genuinely listened to those directly affected.


Does this mean that the Government will implement all of the recommendations?


No. The Government does not have to act upon the Committee’s recommendations. But it must take them seriously, as the Committee’s role is to advise the Government, and what it says carries significant weight.


What happens next?


The Government must now respond to the inquiry, and say what it is going to do.


What can I do to help?


It is now vitally important to step up the pressure on the Government to act upon the Committee’s recommendations. UNGRIPP will prepare an open letter to the Justice Secretary, on behalf of those serving the sentence and their families. We are organising ways that you can tell us what you think about the report, and what you want us to say. Please watch our social media for further details.


It is now absolutely crucial that we step up contact with MPs. All our template letters now ask MPs to urge the Government to act upon the Committee’s recommendations, and our guidance talks you through exactly how to contact your MP. Just a few letters from the same constituency about the same issue can make an MP act. Please send a letter, and ask your friends and family to send a letter too. And please let us know the responses you get, so we can monitor which MPs are most supportive. Guidance and template letters here: https://www.ungripp.com/get-involved


You can view the full report here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1509/imprisonment-for-public-protection-ipp-sentences/news/



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