Content warning: Information about IPP and prisons can include descriptions of self-harm, mental ill-health, suicide, drug use, racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and violence both state and interpersonal.

The Samaritans contact details

IPP Friends and Family Campaign

Legal Factsheet on IPP Sentences, Inside Time

Sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection, Commons Library Briefing

Unjust Deserts, Prison Reform Trust report on IPP sentences, 2010

Too Many Bends in the Tunnel? *New* Report on Women IPP prisoners by The Griffins Society, 2019

Template letter to your MP

Please ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 1524. Find out who your MP is here.

Here is a template letter to help you think about what to write, but it will sound better if you can use your own words.

Dear [First name of your MP]

Please sign EDM 1524 regarding IPP prisoners.

As you know, the IPP sentence was introduced in April 2005, and was designed to detain offenders who posed a risk of serious harm to the public until they no longer posed this risk. IPP offenders must serve a minimum term in prison, and after this they are able to apply to the Parole Board for release.

The sentence was abolished by the Coalition Government in 2012 as it was used too widely and indefinite sentences were found to violate human rights. But this was not applied retrospectively.

At present too many IPP prisoners are trapped in the system with no release date in sight. This is not for safety reasons but because the system lacks the political will to deal with them. Some examples include:

  • Parole hearings are constantly deferred and reports come in late (this is the fault of staff, not prisoners).
  • IPPs are often required to complete courses to prove they are low risk, but often these courses are not available, as determinate prisoners take priority.
  • IPPs are denied parole because of mental health or substance misuse problems which they did not have before they started the IPP sentence but which developed as a result.
  • IPPs are not released as the resources are not available to support them in the community.

All of this is taking a severe toll on the mental health of IPPs and that of their families. The self-harm and suicide rates are higher than that of any other category prisoner.

Furthermore, over 1000 IPPs who were released have been recalled to prison, again predominantly for administrative reasons.

EDM 1524 calls on the government to:

  • speed up the process of release
  • ensure the resources to support people on release so they can resettle safely
    abolish the life licence and replace it with a fixed-term of supervision that ensures support for people on release
  • severely restrict the power to recall to prison for indeterminate sentences for public protection.

[Here you could insert something about what your MP has done in the past and why signing the motion fits with their values. For example, my MP Afzal Khan opposes the indefinite detention of migrants.]

Can I count on you to sign the motion?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name, address and telephone number.]


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One of our lot breaks it down.

The Never-Ending Sentence

Short Films

Jailed for Life for Minor Crimes  Vice (The basics, 2015)

One Punch, 99 Years in Prison Vice (Essential but upsetting viewing, 2018)

Going Underground Season Finale 2017 RT (IPP from about 14 minutes in)


Newspaper articles

The Guardian: ‘IPP sentencing regime in England and Wales called ‘deeply harmful”

The Independent: ”I could well die in here’ – the story of Charlotte Nokes and the thousands still locked up on indefinite sentences’

The Independent: ‘I’m one of thousands of prisoners with no release date in sight – this is how the IPP sentence ruined my life’ – by Ian Hartley

Daily Mail article featuring Darcey Hartley

The Guardian: ‘Sister of IPP Prisoner who took his own life calls for urgent action’

The Justice Gap: What’s an IPP sentence?

The Justice Gap: ‘IPP Ruling Indefinite Sentences Breach Human Rights’

RT: ‘Britain’s forgotten prisoners: 4000 people trapped behind bars in ‘never-ending’ IPP limbo’

The Guardian: ‘Thousands of IPPs are trapped in a shameful limbo. They must be freed’

The Canary: ‘One of Britain’s ‘forgotten’ prisoners is creating a commotion outside his bars’ (about Ian Hartley)

New Statesman: ‘Locked Up To Make us Feel Better’

New Statesman: ‘I’m to blame’: Blunkett’s indefinite prison sentences and the thousands still locked up without hope’

The Week: ‘Inmate given indefinite IPP sentence to go free after 11 years’ (about James Ward)

Independent: Man jailed for 10 months is still inside 11 years later (about James Ward)

Independent: Indefinite detention must be ended

Independent: Prison Governors brand controversial sentence ‘inhumane’

Independent: Prison Service ‘cannot cope’ with indefinite sentences’

Other great people doing stuff on prisons

Prisonism This is where you can buy the HMP Survival Guide, featuring our own Darcey, and find out about hero Carl Cattermole’s other amazing projects!!

Community Action on Prison Expansion Grassroots campaign against plans to build 9 new mega-prisons in England, Scotland and Wales. Get involved!

The Lockdown Podcast As well as the IPP episode, loads of great info about the prison system and resistance to it

Empty Cages Collective UK based collective, working towards a prison-free world.

Joint Enterprise (Not Guilty by Association) Grassroots campaign to reform joint enterprise law – locking up people for murders they didn’t commit (friends and family led).

Critical Resistance US based prison resistance.

generationFive Working to end the cycle of child sexual abuse in five generations (US based).

Books Beyond Bars UK prison abolitionists sending books to LGBTQIA+ people in prison!

London Anarchist Black Cross Prisoner solidarity work.

Bent Bars A letter writing project for LGBTQIA+ prisoners in the UK.