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Prison Sentences

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners have been detained on indeterminate sentences; and how many are currently so detained. (188637)

At the end of December 2007 there were 3,700 prisoners serving indeterminate sentences for public protection in all prison establishments in England and Wales.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

No prisoner serving an indeterminate sentence may be considered for release until they have completed their tariff, that is, the period of imprisonment considered necessary to meet the requirements of retribution and deterrence. The Parole Board may direct a tariff-expired indeterminate sentence prisoner's release only if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner should be confined.

As at 31 January 2008, 17 prisoners serving indeterminate sentences of imprisonment for public protection (IPP) have been released. 16 of these were on the direction of the Parole Board. In the seventeenth case the prisoner was released before tariff expiry on compassionate grounds due to ill health and has since died.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners on indeterminate sentences are detained although their minimum term has expired. (188638)

The Public Protection Unit of the National Offender Management Service, the pre-release section (PRS) maintains a limited database on those offenders sentenced to imprisonment for public protection (IPP). This indicates that, as at 1 January 2008, 535 such offenders were being held in prison beyond their tariff expiry date.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

The Department is developing a new database that will allow it to accurately capture the information requested. It is expected that the new database will go live by April.