One of the few lucky ones, a parolee describes his feelings about those who got away and continue to get away with introducing Indeterminate sentences for public protection

I got given an Indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP) at 17 for possession of a firearm which I have never claimed to not have been a serious crime. However, my grievance with getting an IPP was that it was my first time going to jail. I was brought up in an area where the young are preyed upon and used by the old. Critically, at 17 I couldn’t go clubbing. I couldn’t even gamble. I had never had a bank account. Indeed there are many things juveniles are not allowed to do in this country because the government believes and I even agree that there is still a lot of personal growth for a 17-year-old. It takes time beyond your teen years to mature. Yet the government also handed out life sentences to youths over a potential risk.’

It sounds like something out of the Tom Cruise Film ‘Minority report’ where police utilise a psychic technology to arrest and convict murderers before they commit their crime. Tom Cruise plays the head of this Precrime unit.

I was sentenced to a 2 year and 5 month tariff. I served just under 5 years which, considering other IPP prisoners’ stories of being inside for over a decade, is somewhat of a miracle. I got open conditions at first parole then let out after second parole.

I have seen the mental torture that this sentence brings. I was once on a wing with someone in prison who was in for the same offence as me, had a much worse previous criminal record than me (including going to jail before) whose sentencing judge said he is being asked to consider an indeterminate sentence “but I consider you to be far too young for that”. He was 19 at the time.

I personally had to block out the injustice of the IPP sentence to be able to get on with my life and I have done that for the last 8 years on licence. But every time I think about this sentence and how the most intelligent and best-educated people in the country allow for it to continue, it sends me into a dark depression, still to this day.

Ever since watching the latest inquiry on BBC parliament, it hurts my soul that David Blunkett has come out and said that the sentence that he introduced has ruined tens of thousands of lives, sent thousands of people mentally ill and pushed hundreds to suicide, and was never thought out thoroughly enough. Seems a lot of people think he is now on our side, but if I had the amount of blood on my hands that he has on his I’d be protesting in my underwear outside 10 Downing Street till the last IPP [prisoner] was freed.

Justice secretary after justice secretary has come in and admitted that the sentence was unjust and it had to be abolished, but have done nothing to help the ones who are right now suffering the mental torture. And that probably makes Ken Clarke the worst one, right behind David Blunkett.

As you probably can tell I’m very passionate about this subject and I would like to do more for change. I want to look into doing a documentary on IPP and have the facts put out there to the public about the torture the leaders of the country allow. The saddest thing about IPP is that the justice secretary, the parole board and the probation service all know this sentence is wrong and they have known for over 15 years but no significant changes have ever been made for IPP prisoners because none of them care.

I’m writing this because I want to try to do something about IPPs as I feel I’ve let myself down on how silent I’ve been on this matter.


The IPP (indeterminate sentence for public protection) sentence was implemented in 2005 by the then secretary of state for Justice David Blunkett.. Between 2005 and 2013 8,711 people in England and Wales were given a particular type of life sentence, the IPP. B) Release all IPP prisoners on a licence more suited to their sentence.

Before 2005 the sentences were reserved for murder, the most serious cases of manslaughter, GBH and rape. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced the Indeterminate sentence for public production, known as the IPP sentence.

The IPP was a life sentence that could be given for any of the 153 crimes, including affray and robbery.

Many of those crimes have never previously been given a life sentence. In 2012, the IPP sentence was abolished by the Government. But it was not abolished retrospectively. At the time of writing 3,252 people are still in prison serving IPP sentences. Apart from a handful of successful appeals, all people released on an IPP continue to serve their sentence in the community for life.

304 (3.5%) of IPP sentences were given to people aged 18 years.


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