The conference was organised by the Diocese of Worcester Diocesan Criminal Justice Affairs Group. The Venue was the Great Hall at The Grange, Her Majesty’s Prison, Hewell in Worcestershire. I am very grateful to the Worcestershire High Sheriff for organising my invitation.
The subject of the conference was “The dilemma of the sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP)”. Such sentences were introduced by section 225 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and abolished in 2012. However, the 2012 Act was not retrospective so that there are still some 3,500 prisoners in prison with such a sentence.
The purpose of such sentences is to find a way of dealing with offences that are not subject to a life term but are sufficiently serious to merit consideration of public safety if released once the given sentence has been served. It is the job of the Parole Board to make this judgement.
The dilemma is that Prisoners can find themselves in a limbo, staying in prison long after they have served their original sentence.
The conference heard from the Prison Governor, a video of four prisoners under IPP sentence, a Professor from the school of law at the university of Warwick, the Parole Board, the Probation Service and the Prison Reform Trust. We then had a choice of workshops, a round up of the conclusions from these workshops. It ended with a masterly reflection on the day by the Archdeacon of Worcester.
It is important to emphasise that the issues present a dilemma without an easy answer. However, the fact that these sentences were abolished in 2012 points to the possibility that these prisoners find themselves in a legal and moral limbo.