The Demise of the Unpopular Imprisonment for Public Protection Sentence

Date01 February 2013
AuthorVanessa Bettinson
Publication Date01 February 2013
SubjectEuropean Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The Demise of the Unpopular Imprisonment for Public
Protection Sentence
James, Wells and Lee vUnited Kingdom (App. Nos 25119/09, 5771509
and 57877/09) 18 September 2012
Keywords Imprisonment for public protection; Parole Board; European
Convention on Human Rights, Article 5
The three applicants had all received indeterminate prison sentences for
public protection (IPP) in accordance with s. 225 of the Criminal Justice
Act 2003. The purpose of the IPP sentencing framework was to protect
the public from offenders deemed to be too dangerous. When imposing
an IPP sentence the sentencing judge would set a minimum term,
known as a tariff that an offender must serve before release could be
considered. However, release could only be directed by the Parole Board
after this period if it was satisf‌ied that it was no longer necessary for the
protection of the public to continue to detain the offender in accordance
with s. 28(6)(b) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997. Guidance as to how
the Parole Board should assess the level of risk to public protection the
offender represents was provided in directions issued by the Secretary of
State to the Parole Board in accordance with s. 239 of the Criminal
Justice Act 2003. Direction 6, issued in 2004, stated that in under-
taking this task the Parole Board should consider where information is
relevant and available whether the person serving an IPP (Crime (Sen-
tences) Act 1997, s. 34(1)(2)(d)) ‘has made positive and successful
efforts to address the attitudes and behavioural problems which led to
the commission of the index offence’. Also to be considered by the
Parole Board is the offender’s ‘awareness of the impact of the index
offence . . . and the extent of any demonstrable insight into his/her
attitudes and behavioural problems and whether he/she has taken steps
to reduce the risk through the achievement of life sentence plan
The f‌irst applicant, James, received his IPP sentence following his
conviction for the offence of intending to cause grievous bodily harm
several earlier convictions for a variety of criminal offences relating to
violent behaviour. The sentencing judge accepted James was dangerous
particularly after consuming alcohol, having regard to the pre-sentence
report that indicated his offending behaviour was linked to excessive
drinking. The tariff was set at two years minus time on remand, amount-
ing to 1 year and 295 days. James was taken to the local prison, HMP
Doncaster, where he took several short courses that were available to
him. Unfortunately, no provision was available in the Doncaster prison
for James to embark upon specif‌ic courses to address his dangerous
behaviour. The authorities were unable to move James to a prison
22 The Journal of Criminal Law (2013) 77 JCL 22–32

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