Educate, Campaign, Remember, Support
Launched last year on the 8th anniversary of the IPP sentence’s abolition, the United Group for Reform of IPP (UNGRIPP) is a grassroots campaigning organisation pushing for changes to the Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) sentence. Led by families of those serving the sentence, UNGRIPP pursues four activities that we believe are most needed: educate, campaign, remember, and support.
What’s in a name?
The problems of the IPP sentence are already well known to those who read this blog. UNGRIPP believes that the only way to achieve change is for everyone concerned about the IPP sentence to come together and act collectively – to stand united. That includes people serving the sentence, their friends and family, criminal justice professionals, academics, community leaders, third sector organisations, politicians, the public, and anybody concerned with the fair and proportionate administration of punishment. We seek to bring people together regardless of political persuasion, organisational affiliation or personal involvement with the sentence. We believe that the harm caused by the IPP sentence transcends these differences.
We also believe it is important to transcend political differences in campaigning. While some people have called for executive release of all IPPs, others have called for more moderate reforms, such as reform to the license period, or for those with tariffs of less than two years to be addressed first. Still others have campaigned for individual loved ones. We believe that all these voices come from a similar place of pain, uncertainty, and alienation created by the IPP sentence, and that these similarities are more important than differences in campaigning efforts. UNGRIPP does favour particular changes, but seeks to impartially represent all changes that have been called for. We present the options in a way that allows people to make up their own minds, and then supports them to take action (see https://www.ungripp.com/options-for-change for more details).
Why a grassroots movement?
UNGRIPP is no more or less than a group of people who want to take action. Led by families, and supported by academics and professionals, it brings people together with a range of perspectives and skills. However, it aims not to stray from the fundamentally painful experiences wrought by the IPP sentence, and is morally guided by those who experience that pain. Our earliest efforts began when two of our founders set up a social media channel called ‘The Forgotten’ (@forgottenipps). This platform allows people to anonymously share the impact of the IPP sentence on them and their families, without fear of repercussions. As the stories poured in, we realised that greater movement for change around the IPP sentence was needed, and UNGRIPP was created. We try to give a voice, and a platform, to those who feel unheard and unseen. Here is what we do.
The truth of the IPP sentence is hidden behind legal terms like ‘tariff’ and ‘indefinite’. People often find the sentence shocking and unacceptable, if they stay long enough to learn about it. But explaining the IPP sentence in a straightforward way is difficult, and can be draining for those affected by it. We aim to educate people about the IPP sentence in understandable terms, and to transparently present its complexities, so people can draw their own conclusions. Our website explains the IPP sentence, so that people affected by it do not have to. We also house the biggest archive of material on the IPP sentence, for use by journalists, campaigners and academics, and for circulation to anybody who wishes to learn more about the sentence.
The IPP sentence was abolished by the Government in 2012, yet 3,187 people are still serving it in prison, and thousands more are subject to its restrictions in the community. UNGRIPP campaigns for a restoration of proportionality to those serving the IPP sentence via determinate resentencing, for reform to the IPP license that burdens those who were given an IPP and their families, and for a holistic package of support that helps all affected by the sentence (including families and children) to recover. We campaign predominantly through direct political action, by giving people the resources to easily engage with their MPs, by our own engagement with politicians, and through media work.
We recognise that the very least we can achieve is to make sure that people affected by the IPP sentence are heard, and remembered. Our social media channel The Forgotten receives stories daily from those affected by the sentence, which we publish regularly. We monitor Parliamentary activity on the IPP sentence, and the regular statistical releases by the Ministry of Justice, both of which we publish on our website. We commemorate all of those who have died whilst serving the sentence, including those who have committed suicide.
We provide resources to support people serving the IPP sentence, their loved ones, and the professionals working with them, in the hope that it will give people a better chance of rebuilding their lives in the community. We shortly plan to publish materials detailing how to apply for supervision suspension and license termination.
How can you help?
Our hope is that we can bring people together to be a stronger force for change. Here are some ways you can help:
Explain the IPP sentence to people that don’t know about it. Use our summary here:
Write to your MP. This is the single most important thing that you can do, particularly while the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill is going through Parliament. Find instructions and template letters here:
Use our archive. If you’re writing something about the IPP sentence, you can find summaries, perspectives and personal stories in our archive here:
Share people’s stories. Make sure that those affected by the sentence are not forgotten. Share their stories from our channel: @gorgotten_ipps
Help someone who’s struggling. If you’re seeking support for someone on the IPP sentence, direct them to our support archive:
Or if you have resources which might help, tell us so we can add them:
State your support for change. Let people know that you support what UNGRIPP is trying to do. Please promote us, but most importantly let the Government know that you are not happy with the continued existence of the IPP sentence, and that you want them to act.
@UNGRIPP on Twitter