Skip Content

9 Feb 2023

Howard League responds to government’s rejection of Justice Committee’s IPP recommendations

The Howard League for Penal Reform has today (Thursday 9 February) responded to the government’s rejection of key recommendations from the Justice Committee’s inquiry into sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs).

Now labelled “immoral”, “unequal and unjust” by those who conceived it, the IPP sentence continues to devastate lives, 10 years after its abolition. Almost 3,000 people who were given IPP sentences are still in prison today, with no sense of if or when they will be released.

The Justice Committee’s report of its inquiry, published in September 2022, found IPP sentences to be irredeemably flawed and called for all people who are subject to them to be resentenced. The committee also recommended halving – from 10 years to five – the time period following release after which licence termination can be considered.

Today, the Government has stripped hope from thousands of people by rejecting these recommendations.

Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The Justice Committee’s sensible and practical recommendations deserved more than this pitiful response from the government. Thousands of families have been torn apart by the IPP scandal; ministers have given them nothing.

“Each week, the Howard League receives letters from IPP prisoners. The most recent was from a man who was recommended to serve two-and-half years but remains stuck inside 16 years later.

“Many of those who write to me say that they feel forgotten. I think this response shows that they are not forgotten – the decision has been taken to keep them in prison indefinitely. A decision has been taken to extend their suffering.

“The Howard League will continue to fight to end this injustice.”


Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The Howard League’s written evidence to the Justice Committee’s inquiry into IPP sentences can be read online.
  3. The Howard League supported two amendments on IPP sentences as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill went through Parliament. They would have reduced the qualifying period before a licence could be terminated and introduced an additional executive power for re-release. The government resisted even these small, practical changes, as Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), Chief Executive of the Howard League, explained in a blogpost published in January.
  4. Findings of a survey of prison governors about the impact of IPP sentences were published in a Howard League briefing, The never-ending story: Indeterminate sentencing and the prison regime, which can be downloaded from the charity’s website.
  5. Statistics for the IPP prisoner population and tariff lengths can be viewed in the ‘Prison population: 30 September 2022’ spreadsheet, published by the Ministry of Justice as part of its Offender Management Statistics quarterly bulletin.
  6. Further information about the Justice Committee inquiry into IPP sentences can be found online.



Noor Khan

Press and Public Affairs Officer

Mobile: +44 (0)20 7241 7873



  • Join the Howard League

    We are the world's oldest prison charity, bringing people together to advocate for change.

    Join us and make your voice heard
  • Support our work

    We safeguard our independence and do not accept any funding from government.

    Make a donation