Conceptualising ‘success’ among Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentenced offenders with personality-related difficulties

Published date01 March 2021
Date01 March 2021
AuthorBryony Crisp,Nicole King
Subject MatterArticles
Conceptualising ‘success’
among Imprisonment for
Public Protection (IPP)
sentenced offenders
with personality-related
Nicole King and Bryony Crisp
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, UK
This paper explores conceptualisations of success’ by men on Imprisonment for Public
Protection (IPP) sentence licence screened into the Offender Personality Disorder
Pathway. ‘Success’ was defined as a process of having ‘survived’ the perceived
injustices associated with the IPP sentence. Participants’ discussed ‘internal factors
enabling them to make use of ‘external facilitators’ of self-change; ‘success’ was
embedded in the development of interpersonal relationships with professionals. We
propose a model of reciprocal anxiety existing within the criminal justice system in
relation to the management of individuals on IPP sentence.
Imprisonment for Public Protection, interpretive phenomenological analysis, person-
ality disorder, probation, licence
Imprisonment for Public Protection
The Criminal Justice Act (2003) introduced the sentence of Imprisonment for Public
Protection (IPP) for individuals convicted of serious sexual and violent crimes.
Corresponding Author:
Bryony Crisp, HMP Full Sutton, Secure Care Services, Bamburgh Clinic, St Nicholas’ Hospital, Newcastle
upon Tyne NE3 3XT, UK.
Probation Journal
2021, Vol. 68(1) 85–106
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0264550520984513
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice
Implemented in April 2005, the sentence was later deemed ‘a systemic failure’ by a
High Court ruling in 2008 (R v Secretary of State for Justice), and abolished in May
in 2012, approximately 6,000 males were sentenced to an IPP (House of Com-
mons, 2019), with a need for them to satisfy a Parole Board that they no longer pose
a significant risk to the public in order for them to be released after their set minimum
term (tariff).
This influx of people being incarcerated contributed substantially to prison
resources being overstretched, particularly in relation to the availability of rehabili-
tative and resettlement programmes (House of Commons, 2019). This poses signifi-
cant problemsfor IPP prisoners, since ParoleBoards recommend such programmes as
a means to demonstrate reduction in risk (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons,
2016; House of Commons, 2019). Although initiatives were put in place to support
the progression of IPP sentenced prisoners towards release, such initiatives occur in
the context of a rising prison population, constrained resources and diminishing
staffing levels (Annison, 2018; Ministry of Justice, 2016). Consequently, IPP sen-
tenced offenders serving relatively short tariffs found themselves ‘stuck’, often
remaining in prison for a lengthy periodof time post-tariff expiry, witheven the Justice
Secretary who implemented the 2003 act, Kenneth Clarke, admitting it was ‘almost
impossible’ for a prisoner to prove that they were no longer a risk to the public
(Conway, 2014).As of December 2019, there remained2,134 prisoners serving IPP
sentences, withrates of recall to custody increasing by 24%from the previous year to
1,260 (Ministry of Justice, 2020). Furthermore, between July-September 2019, only
91 individuals on IPP sentence were released from custody, a decrease of 32%from
the previous year (House of Commons, 2019).
Once released into the community on licence, IPP sentenced individuals expe-
rience high levels of recall to custody, with the majority of cases (51%) recalled not
for having committed further offences but for non-compliance with licence condi-
tions (Ministry of Justice, 2018; Webster, 2017). This represents a proactive
measure by the National Probation Service (NPS) in response to perceptions of
escalating risk and is not unexpected given the level of risk and dangerousness
inherent in those subject to IPP. It may also indicate a level of anxiety in relation to
IPPs, leading to tighter controls in the form of licence conditions and stricter man-
agement of these conditions, within the system charged with the management of this
sentence that has been described as a ‘stain on the criminal justice system’ (Con-
way, 2014).
The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (Rutherford et al., 2008) highlighted that
individuals with pre-existing mental health difficulties were more likely to receive an
IPP sentence and that the IPP sentence itself can lead to an exacerbation or devel-
opment of mental health and emotional difficulties. In 2010, the Prison Reform Trust
(Jacobson and Hough, 2010) highlighted that IPP sentences have a negative impact
on the mental health and wellbeing of those subjected to them. IPP prisoners have
been found to experience high levels of anxiety and an increased risk of self-harm
(Howard League for Penal Reform, 2007, 2013) as well as reporting general
feelings of stress and depression, particularly in relation to the indeterminate nature
86 Probation Journal 68(1)

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