Lord Blunkett, Former Home Secretary, questioned by MPs on IPP Sentences

IPP sentences were introduced by the Criminal Justice Act in 2003 and they began to be implemented in 2005. These sentences meant offenders received a minimum term in prison before they could apply for parole release.

The IPP sentences were introduced by Lord Blunkett when he was Home Secretary. Despite their abolishment in 2012, after receiving heavy criticism in the previous decade, thousands of prisoners are still incarcerated on IPP sentences. Due to the nature of these sentences, without a specific end date, many of the prisons on a IPP sentence have been in prison significantly longer than their minimum term.

One reason for the high levels of criticism these sentences have received is their contribution to an endless cycle of incarceration. To apply to the parole board for release, the prisoners must pass a release test to display that they are fit to be reintroduced to society. However, due to the impact of indeterminate imprisonment, many of the inmates develop mental illnesses that prevent them from passing this test.

96% of prisoners on an IPP sentence have completed their minimum term with over five hundred of these individuals completing an extra decade in prison on top of their original minimum sentence. Following their release, each person on an IPP sentence is given an indefinite licence for release, breaches of which can see them recalled. These licenses can not be terminated until ten years following the prisoner’s initial release.

An inquiry into the IPP sentences began in September 2021. The IPP sentences have been deemed a ‘stain on our criminal justice system’ by former Supreme Court Justice Lord Brown while Lord Blunkett states the decision to implement such sentences ‘weighs heavily’ on him.

Despite nearly a decade passing since the abolishment of these sentences, as a result there are still many people incarcerated indefinitely and numerous individuals called back regularly due to their licenses. The issues caused by the IPP sentences are seemingly endless. The inquiry wishes to determine the consequences and potential solutions.

Eleanor Wadley

Eleanor Wadley has extensive experience in writing in a wide-range of fields including travel and lifestyle, tourism, educational content for charities. Eleanor kicked off her career with a first class degree in Illustration and Creative and Professional Writing from the University of Worcester.