Families of People Serving the indeterminate IPP sentence Need a ‘Helping Hand’

Guest blog from Harry Annison and Christina Straub on their new report into the impact of having a family member serving an IPP.

Share This Post

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

As a family IPP has destroyed us, and we need all the support we can get.

Family member

The indeterminate sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) was abolished in 2012, some seven years ago. However, the legal situation of the 8,000 individuals sentenced to IPP before its repeal was not altered. While many have now been released on licence, approximately 3,400 IPP prisoners remain incarcerated: some 2,200 who have never been released and a further 1,200 who have been recalled to prison.

While there have been a large number of important reports on the IPP sentence and issues therein, the role of – and need to support – families had remained largely under-explored. Recognising this, our recently-published report ‘A Helping Hand’, a collaborative project with the Prison Reform Trust, sought to examine the pains and specific needs of families of people serving IPPs, and what could be done by relevant organizations to enable them to support their relative to achieve successful resettlement.

To enable IPP prisoners´ families voices to be heard, the project sought to engage with them in a spirit of co-production through a series of workshops, interviews, surveys and informal ongoing dialogue. We found, in summary, that to date the pains and barriers faced by families of people serving IPP sentences have not sufficiently been addressed. We argue in the report:

 

  • That the IPP sentence is deeply harmful to families
  • That the state – and relevant organizations therein – should seek to mitigate these harms
  • That changes in legislation, policy and practice are required in order better to enable families to support the successful resettlement of their family member serving an IPP sentence
  • That the proposed changes would benefit not only families of people serving IPP sentences, but also the prisoners themselves, criminal justice organizations (by easing costs and burdens imposed by this sentence), and the public (by improving the prospects of successful long-term rehabilitation)
 
The graphic below shows the latest data on IPPs recalled to prison.

Findings

We can, in this short blog, point to some of the key points to emerge from our report. First, in broad terms the predominant themes identified revolved around the secondary pain and distress experienced by family members ‘on behalf’ of the IPP prisoner (see further Annison and Condry, 2018). Alongside the emotional strain, relatives reported that had become case workers on behalf of the prisoner, always ready to present and explain the individual’s case files in painstaking detail. And we often heard concerns that this work was not sufficiently recognised.

Indeed, on the contrary, often families felt that they were excluded – or at least not sufficiently or consistently involved – with processes and decisions relating to their relative and their successful rehabilitation. Communication could be variable and often poor. Information needed by families was often difficult to obtain, opaque and sometimes simply did not exist. Families also raised concerns that, in their experience, some staff in relevant organizations did not have a sufficient understanding of the IPP sentence and the specific issues that flowed from it. Sections 5 and 6 of our report ‘A Helping Hand’ examines relevant organizations and processes – including prisons, probation and parole – in detail and sets out recommendations for change.

The IPP sentence was recognised by the government in 2011 to have been ‘unclear, inconsistent and have been used far more than was ever intended,’ and that there has been more recent governmental recognition of the ‘concern and wisdom’ cumulatively gained over the 15 years since the introduction of the sentence. We welcome the progress that has been made over recent years to address the legacy of the IPP sentence. There is, however, still more that must be done.

Thanks to Andy Aitchison for kind permission to use the header image in this post. You can see Andy’s work here.

Share This Post

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Related posts

Prison
Lockdown may mean longer sentences

PRT CAPPTIVE briefing finds prisons lockdown has effectively ended prisoners’ opportunities to take part in rehabilitation activities and progress in their sentences.

Prison
Prisons failing to deliver basic safeguarding

Most prisons are failing in their duty to ensure that emergency phone lines are in place for families to share urgent concerns about self-harm and suicide risks of relatives in prison

4 Responses

  1. My beautiful daughter lizzi Stanley was made an IPP in January 2008 her sentence was 2yr 1month she has injured 12yrs of this barbaric sentence as have 1000’S others! 😠 The whole fucked up system is so corrupt. #FREE LIZZI STANLEY SHE’S BEING ILLEGALLY HELD BY A CORRUPT SYSTEM AS ARE 1000’S MORE.. SHAME ON THEM BASTARDS.. I SEND KARMA TO YOU ALL!! 😈😈💯

    1. Unbelievable when they deem the sentence as inhumane when left previous sentences languishing in a limbo with not much hope. Having to fight a system that wrongly imprisoned them on ridiculous inhume tariffs

  2. My partner got an ipp sentence in 2007 to do 18 months hes now been inside for 14 years this system is corrupt free those who are serving ipp sentences I want to fight for him but I wouldn’t even know where to start someone please help

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

A bespoke service

We understand that each client has differing needs and concerns. We can assist and discuss with you in advance the likely difficulties and challenges you will face in prison including, Sentence Mitigation Reports, categorisation, disciplinary proceedings, prison transfers, Release on Temporary Licence through to eventual release and living on licence in the community.

Unilink

 

Excellence through innovation

With over 20 years’ experience in the criminal justice sector, Unilink is a world leader in probation and community corrections software applications, as well as prisoner self-service, prisoner/case management and prisoner communications. Unilink’s integrated suite of products provide a complete digital solution enabling efficient running of prisons and probation. Underpinned by biometrics it integrates seamlessly to deliver security, efficiency and value – while being proven to help rehabilitate prisoners.

keep informed

One email every day at noon