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Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2010

20. What progress has been made on plans to review the operation of indeterminate sentences for public protection. (323404)

Imprisonment for public protection sentences play an important part in protecting the public. We are currently considering the recommendations of the joint thematic review on indeterminate sentences, published by the prisons and probation inspectorates, for improving the operation of those sentences.

The Secretary of State will know that there are 2,400 post-tariff prisoners cluttering up our prisons. They cannot apply to the Parole Board, because they cannot get on the offender behaviour courses that they have been required to undertake. Does he accept the view of the inspectorates that he has just mentioned, which is that that is completely unsustainable? In fact, does he not agree that it is literally a criminal waste of money?

I profoundly disagree with the hon. Gentleman. Those offenders are not “cluttering up” prisons; they are there because they have been assessed as dangerous by the courts following legislation that we introduced in 2003. There is no entitlement for a prisoner who is on an IPP sentence to be released when his tariff expires. The prisoner has to show that it is safe to release him or her—they are mainly males. The responsibility for proving that it is safe to release the prisoner is on the prisoner. We make available a range of courses, but it is not about ticking boxes; it is about prisoners taking responsibility for themselves. There is no doubt about the effectiveness of the sentence. In my judgment, it is one of the measures that we have introduced that has considerably contributed to making this country much safer and to getting crime down.