For additional information on Indeterminate Public Protection please see the dedicated FMHC Research Forum on Indeterminate Public Protection / Imprisonment for Public Protection. The article below provides a brief introduction to the easily-abused nature of IPP.
About Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection
The Labour government’s Criminal Justice Act 2003 changed the entire criminal sentencing structure. Its measures included a provision, which came into force in 2005, whereby anyone convicted of a violent or sexual offence for which the maximum sentence was ten years or over and whom the court determined to be ‘dangerous’, received an indeterminate sentence. Any previous violent/sexual offence automatically rendered a person dangerous and, in some cases, no previous offences were necessary.
The minimum period (‘tariff’) of imprisonment is supposedly determined by the facts of the case, but once that period expires release is at the discretion of the Parole Board. The introduction of these sentences quickly led to ridiculous situations for prisoners, some with tariffs of a few months, whose cases were not considered by the Parole Board until well after their tariffs had expired, and who by then had not even begun the ‘offending behaviour’ courses, which, despite no concrete evidence that they actually work, are the system’s favoured yardstick for determining ‘reduction of risk’.
In 2008, following legal challenges, the ‘dangerousness’ test was amended and the law changed so that anyone whose crime warranted a sentence of less than two years no longer received an indeterminate sentence; however this was not retrospective and lots of short-tariff IPP prisoners continue to languish in gaol.
The current government plans to amend IPPs again to make the shortest possible tariff one of five years. Again this is not likely to be retrospective.
Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust stated the following in relation to IPP Sentences:
“...It is high time for a review of indeterminate sentences. They were designed as a technical measure to detain a small number of dangerous offenders. But badly drafted, and whipped up by the previous prime minister and home secretary, they have become a ferocious, unjust law that in two years has catapulted around 3,000 people into jail for who knows how long. This catastrophic change has been wished on the prison service without extra resources, leaving prisons under vast pressure and thousands of men held in overcrowded jails, beyond their tariff, with no means to show that they do not present a risk to the public. This is the Kafkaesque nature of modern day imprisonment...”
Phil Brennan of Welcome to the Resistance has kindly suggested a list of actions required to tackle the issue of Imprisonment for Public Protection, with specific reference to the case of Mohammed Hamid:
Write to the Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke asking him to repeal the IPP sentence served on Mohammed Hamid.
Write to your MP expressing disgust at IPP sentences, in particular Mohammed Hamid's case.
- Why were logs and evidence from the Secret Service lost or misplaced?
- Why were there over 100 photos but none of acts of terrorism, only of the group mostly playing football?
- Why did two police officers lie under oath and claim to be from military backgrounds and how and why did they have identical statements?
- Why do none of the transcripts contain any statements from Muhammed Hamid inciting people to "go abroad and to kill innocent people"?
- Why did the undercover operative Dawood say they "were like a bunch of boy scouts and not terrorists"?
- Why did an Islamic sheik the prosecution hired to give his opinion on the case state "they were not terrorists"? Why was this specially commissioned report ignored?
- Why was the report's writer not in the country or summoned to give his statement?
- Why weren't all the surveillance transcripts used, just carefully selected excerpts?
- Why did the trial last 6 months?
- Why did the jury take 5 weeks to make a decision?
- Were they leaned upon or given illegal counsel under "Colour of Law"?