Inside News - FRFI 261 Dec 2017/Jan 2018

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IPP scandal continues

Despite repeated promises from government and the Parole Board to address the scandal of the over 3,300 prisoners who continue to serve the discredited Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) no real action is being taken to release those stuck in this nightmare. On 13 November the Court of Appeal refused to overturn the IPP sentence imposed in 2006 on then 18-year-old Daniel Sayce. Sayce was given an IPP with a minimum tariff of 14 ½ months for a robbery in which he stole £1.50. He has now served 11 years. His lawyers said that his IQ is too low for him to understand the prison ‘offending behaviour courses’ which might compel the Parole Board to deem him safe to release.

Some good news on legal aid

In April this year a legal challenge brought by the Prisoners Advice Service and Howard League against the removal of legal aid for various prison law cases resulted in the Court of Appeal ruling that the government should restore legal aid provision for Category A reviews, decisions about referral to Close Supervision Centres and pre-tariff reviews for life sentence prisoners. However, following the judgment nothing happened, as the court did not set any timescale for implementation and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said it would be appealing further to the Supreme Court.

On 3 November the MOJ announced that it was dropping this planned appeal, and in a subsequent letter to the charities which brought the judicial review, said that legal aid in the three relevant categories would be restored by February 2018.

Smoking ban update

As the Prison Service continues to phase in a complete ban on tobacco in all establishments, and reaps the predictable whirlwind of racketeering, tension, violence and protest, on 31 October the Supreme Court heard a bizarre case brought by a prisoner from HMP Wymott, who is complaining that the ban is not being implemented quickly enough or rigorously enough.

Yarl’s Wood

On 15 November the Chief Inspector of Prisons published his report into Yarl’s Wood immigration prison. The prison in Bedfordshire houses 300 detainees, the majority female, with a few family groups and individual males. The report revealed that, although the entire premise of detaining people in Yarl’s Wood is that they are due to be deported from the country, around 70% of the women sent there are subsequently released back into the community. The report also highlighted some shocking decisions regarding the detention of victims of torture and trafficking, including examples of the Home Office refusing to accept that rape is a form of torture.


Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 261 December 2017/January 2018