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Call for Evidence

Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences

Sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) are indeterminate – that is, they have no fixed end date. They were designed to ensure that dangerous violent and sexual offenders stayed in custody for as long as they presented a risk to society. IPP sentences were introduced in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and came into effect in 2005.

An IPP sentence has three parts: a mandatory period in prison (known as the “tariff”), followed by indefinite detention until the Parole Board determines that the person has reduced their risk enough to be safely released (generally by rehabilitative activities), followed by a life licence in the community from which they may be recalled to prison if they breach their licence or reoffend. Ten years after their initial release, IPP prisoners can apply to have their licence terminated.

IPP sentences were abolished in 2012 following heavy criticism of the structure of the sentences, and the systems surrounding their implementation and operation. At the time of abolition, the coalition government said the system was “not defensible”.[1] However, the change was not retrospective and did not apply to existing IPP prisoners.

As of 30 June 2021, there were 1,722 IPP prisoners. 96% of them have served time in prison beyond their tariff. IPP sentences have effectively been replaced by Extended Determinate sentences. Under those, and unlike under IPPs, people are released automatically at the end of their custodial term.

The aim of this inquiry is to examine the continued existence of IPP sentences and to identify possible legislative and policy solutions.

Note: The Committee will accept written submissions from serving prisoners by post - a maximum of 10 A4 pages. Submissions should be posted to: Justice Select Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. If accepted by the Committee, all prisoner evidence submissions will be made fully anonymous before being published.

Terms of reference:

  • What options are available to reduce the size of the IPP prison population? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different options?
  • What are the current barriers preventing release? What measures would need to be taken to overcome these barriers, and what would be the operational and resource implications for HMPPS?
  • What would be the options and implications of backdating the change to IPP legislation?
  • What is the experience of people on IPP sentences in prison? What additional mental health challenges do people serving IPP sentences face because of the nature of their indeterminate sentence?
  • How is release and resettlement planned and managed for IPP prisoners given their unpredictable release date?
  • How are people on IPP sentences managed within the community once released?
  • What are the main reasons why people serving IPP sentences are recalled? Once recalled what support is given to prepare them for re-release?

Please send submissions of no more than 3,000 words through the online portal by close of play Tuesday 26 October 2021. We would welcome early submissions.

Please note the deadline has been extended until 22 November.

Important information about making a submission

Written evidence must address the terms of reference as set out above, but please note that submissions do not have to address every point. Guidance on giving evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons is available here.

In line with the general practice of select committees the Justice Committee is not able to take up individual cases. If you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament.

The Committee will decide whether to accept a submission and whether to publish it on its website.  All written evidence will be considered by the Committee, whether or not it is published. If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online and will be available permanently for anyone to view. It can’t be changed or removed. If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will normally be published too. Please consider carefully how much personal information you need to share. If you include personal information about other people in your submission, the Committee may decide not to publish it. Your contact details will never be published.

If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission anonymously (meaning it will be published but without your name), or confidentially (meaning it won't be published at all), please say at the start of your evidence which of these request, and tell us why. This lets the Committee know what you would like but the final decision will be taken by the Committee.

If your evidence raises any safeguarding concerns about you, or other people, then the Committee has a duty to raise these with the appropriate safeguarding authority.

If you have immediate safeguarding concerns about yourself or someone else, you should contact the Police on 999.

We can’t publish submissions that mention ongoing legal cases – contact us if you are not sure what this means for you.


We understand that the issues raised in this work may be sensitive or upsetting and the following organisations may be able to offer support or further information:  

Samaritans – General support for everyone.Call 116 123 - 24 hours a day, every day  Email

Citizens Advice - For independent, free advice provided by a network of charities online, over the phone and in person on a wide variety of issues including benefits, work, debt, housing, family and immigration.



This call for written evidence has now closed.

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