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IPP BY NUMBERS

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This section shares the latest figures released by the Ministry of Justice.

We think it is important to document the trends in the IPP sentence, which is why we present available data here. But we also feel strongly that each person serving the sentence matters. You can understand the context behind these figures by reading the stories in our media archive, or by visiting our Twitter project, The Forgotten.

QUARTERLY - IMPRISONED IPP POPULATION

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MARCH 2024

Total in Prison: 2,796
Unreleased - under tariff: 13
Unreleased, over tariff: 1,166
On recall: 1,616

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DECEMBER 2023

Total in Prison: 2,852
Unreleased - under tariff: 15
Unreleased, over tariff: 1,210
On recall: 1,625

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SEPTEMBER 2023

Total in Prison: 2,909
Unreleased - under tariff: 20
Unreleased, over tariff: 1,247
On recall: 1,652

ANNUAL - SELF HARM AND SUICIDE

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2023

Self Harm Incidents: 1,866
Suicides: 9

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2022

Self Harm Incidents: 1,683

Suicides: 8

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2021

Self Harm Incidents: 1,907
Suicides: 3

A MORE DETAILED LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

HOW MANY IPP SENTENCES WERE GIVEN OUT?

  • 8,711 people were given an IPP sentence between 2005 and 2013

  • 249 people who received the sentence were women (2.9%)

  • 326 people who received the sentence were children (3.7%)

  • 309 were aged 15-17 (10 were girls)

  • 16 were boys, aged 12-14

  • One was a boy, aged 10-11

  • We do not know how many people from ethnic minority backgrounds were given the IPP sentence, but we do know that 23% of the IPP population currently in prison is from an ethnic minority background. This is a slightly lower proportion than in the prison population as a whole, where 27% are from an ethnic minority background

WHAT CRIMES WAS THE IPP SENTENCE GIVEN FOR?

Under law, IPP sentences could be given out for 153 specified offences. They were actually given out for 107 offences.

  • 3045 were given for violent offences (35%)

  • 2508 were given for sex offences (27.8%)

  • 1882 were given for robbery offences (21.6%)

  • 448 were given for fire setting offences (5.1%)

  • 355 were given for other offences (4.1%)

  • 232 were given for acquisitive offences (2.7%)

  •  226 were given for weapons offences (2.6%)

  • 11 were given for drug offences (0.1%)

  • Around 70 people were given an IPP sentence for offences where a life sentence is not available today, even as the maximum penalty.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PEOPLE SERVING AN IPP SENTENCE?

  • ​In March 2024, there were 1,180 people who have never been released since receiving the sentence.

  • The sentence does not end upon release. People may still be recalled to prison indefinitely.

  • The most common reason for recall is non-compliance of license conditions (82% of all recall incidents). Less than half involve further offending.

  • In December 2023, 57% of the currently imprisoned IPP population had been recalled to prison.

  • In December 2023, 99% of people serving an IPP sentence who had never been released from prison, were past their tariff expiry date.

  • 57% of those people had served more than 10 years longer than the tariff they were given.

  • Of these, 193 had originally been given a tariff of less than two years. That’s 16% of the current unreleased IPP sentenced population who have served at least 12 years in prison for a crime that would normally attract a prison sentence of 2 years or less.

HOW HAS THE IPP SENTENCE AFFECTED PEOPLE?

  • 90 people have killed themselves in prison while serving an IPP sentence

  • People serving an IPP sentence self-harm at a higher rate than people serving other types of life sentences

  • Recurring themes in studies has shown those serving an IPP sentence suffer emotional anguish and despair that comes from uncertainty and lack of hope about release from prison

WHAT DON'T WE KNOW?

  • We do not know how many people from an ethnic minority background were originally given an IPP sentence.

  • We know that in 2021 there were another 283 people serving an IPP sentence in secure hospitals, bringing the total detained IPP population in June 2021 to 3,337. But this figure is not released regularly.

  • We know that the number of people recalled to prison on an IPP sentence is rising, but we do not know much about them, because the Ministry of Justice often conflates recalled IPP prisoners with other recalled prisoners in their data. 

  • We don't know where around a quarter of people given an IPP sentence are now. We suspect that contributors to this dark figure are deportations, deaths in the community, and sentences that were overturned on appeal. 

STATISTICS ARCHIVE

You can access the ministry of Justice statistical archive, to explore information about the IPP sentence. We are working on adding ad-hoc statistical publications to this section. In the meantime, you can view regularly released information in the Offender Management Statistics Quarterly release (in the summary, and in tables 1.9a and 1.9b).

The Prison Reform Trust also produces a twice-yearly clear and accessible factfile, with up to date information on the IPP sentence, called the Bromley Briefing.

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