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Failure to address indeterminate prison sentences a disgrace

August 14, 2017 11:00 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have backed calls by the Chairman of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, for urgent action to address the backlog of people serving prison sentences with no fixed release date.

Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs) were abolished in 2012, but there are over 3,000 people in England and Wales still serving them, with many facing long delays for Parole Board hearings.

Those serving indeterminate sentences have also been found to have far higher rates of self-harm than those serving fixed sentences.

It's a disgrace that five years on since the abolition of IPPs, thousands are still languishing in prison serving sentences way beyond their original terms.

When the Coalition Government abolished IPPs, the Secretary of State was given the power to change the release test and it was expected he would use it. At a time when we are trying to get prisoner numbers down, it is absurd that this has not been done.

We know that those serving indeterminate sentences are more likely to self-harm and attempt to take their own lives.

This situation is made worse by understaffing, chronic overcrowding and lack of access to mental healthcare in our prisons.

The government has a moral responsibility to reform the system and speed up the release of those who have served their tariff sentences.