Indeterminate sentences ruled unlawful

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPP) are unlawful. More than 6000 prisoners in England and Wales are currently serving such sentences. Many are detained beyond the term fixed within the sentence as punishment and under the current legislation must prove that they are no longer a danger to society before being released. The court ruled that prisoners, particularly those with learning difficulties or mental health problems have “no realistic chance” of attending or passing rehabilitation courses to prove that they are fit for release. The Howard League for Penal Reform has campaigned against these sentences for many years as being wrong in principle and practice.

Clients should note that this ruling has no immediate effect as it has been stayed for three months to allow the government an opportunity to appeal.