In the recent past, there has been an alarming increase in self-harm acts among prisoners with an indefinite sentence. There has been a rise of over 50% for the last four years. In 2015 only, there were 2,500+ acts of self-harm by inmates imprisoned for IPP sentences or public protection. The rate is higher in IPP detainees than in prisoners serving a fixed jail term. According to the Prison Reform Trust, IPP prisoners are in despair. In 2012, IPP sentences were dispensed, but there are still thousands of prisoners waiting to be set free.
Last year, there were 2537 cases of self-harm among the population of 4100 IPP inmates. Most of the IPP prisoners have been in jail for more than the minimum period they were given, with some serving up to five times the minimum sentence. Danny Weatherson was given a 13-month IPP for robbery when he was 19 years old. He is still in prison nine years later.
A parole board wanted him to be moved to an open prison. This compelled Danny to cut his throat, and the move was postponed. He is recovering in the prison’s hospital. His attorney, Shirley Noble reported that self-harm had become Danny’s way of coping with being denied a release date. Shirley is worried since Danny’s acts could hurt his chances of ever getting out of jail since the parole board considers such behaviors risky.
Shaun Lloyd said that the high rate of self-harm among IPP prisoners is not surprising. For IPP prisoners to be released, they must prove to the Parole Board that they do not pose a danger to the public. Offender managers who assess the prisoner’s possibility of re-offending are few and may only spend some minutes with a prisoner. No one can assess you appropriately after meeting with you for some minutes.
The Ministry of Justice looked into the matter, and Justice Secretary Michael Gove had requested the parole board to investigate how IPP offenders are handled. Immediate action is required to remove the damaging legacy of IPP punishments.