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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

The pains of indeterminate imprisonment for families of IPP prisoners

IPP Prisoners Event

The indeterminate IPP sentence has rightly been described as one of the ‘least carefully planned and implemented pieces of legislation in the history of British sentencing’. Dr Harry Annison and Dr Rachel Condry have recently completed a new phase of their research project ‘Exploring the Secondary Pains of Indeterminate Imprisonment: The case of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) families’ which provides the first empirical exploration of this important issue. It comprised in-depth interviews with family members; an online survey of families; and interviews with policy participants.

The findings make clear that a pervasive sense of injustice and uncertainty underpins and permeates more specific concerns relating to efforts to progress towards release, and managing the stresses of life beyond release. Families report significant material effects, which appear to be heavily gendered in their distribution. Family relationships – both with the prisoner and more widely – are often to be heavily disrupted. Respondents reported significant negative health effects caused by the stress and anxiety.

IPP prisoners event

On the 17th October 2018 Dr Annison and Dr Condry were invited by Jo Stevens MP (Cardiff Central) to House of Parliament to brief stakeholders on their research findings and policy recommendations. Attendees included families affected by IPP sentences, the Chair of the Justice Committee, senior representatives from the Parole Board, HM Prisons and Probation Service and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. This positive and engaging session provided an opportunity for the stakeholders to respond to the recommendations and to build a consensus on how recommendations might be implemented.

We are delighted to say that a recently-confirmed collaborative project with the Prison Reform Trust, co-funded by the ESRC, will enable us to build on our research on the experiences of IPP prisoner families to take steps to address the issues we have identified.

The Policy Briefing, the longer Extended Report and the Inside Time piece can be accessed below.

Policy BriefingLonger Extended ReportInside Time Piece 1
Inside Time Piece 2

Please also read below Dr Harry Annison's submissions to the Justice Committee Prison Population 2022 Inquiry; the government consultation ‘Reconsideration of Parole Board Decisions: Creating a new and open system’; and a joint submission made to the Lord Farmer call for evidence in relation to women in prison.

Ongoing Issues regarding the Indeterminate Imprisonment of ‘Dangerous Offenders’The IPP Sentence and Prisoner Families: Implications for parole
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