Appeal imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence

In the United Kingdom, imprisonment for public protection or an IPP is a form of indeterminate sentence. Stephensons have successfully appealed IPP sentences on clients behalf and have had indeterminate sentences replaced with determinate sentences for advice call us on 0203 816 1098.

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IPP – Law

Section 225 Criminal Justice Act 2003 provides for the imposition of imprisonment for public protection where a person is aged 18 or over and is convicted of a serious offence if the Court is of the opinion that there is significant risk to members of the public of serious harm occasioned by the commission of further specified offences.

Serious harm is defined at section 224(3) as “death or serious personal injury, whether physical or psychological”.

In the case of R v Lang [2006] 2 Cr.App.R.(S) 3, the Court of Appeal considered the approach sentencing Courts should take when considering whether to impose an IPP.

Before a sentence of life imprisonment or imprisonment for public protection can be imposed a significant risk must be shown in relation to two matters; first, the commission of further specified (but not necessarily serious) offences, and secondly, the causing of serious harm to members of the public. This is often described as “dangerousness”.

There must be a “significant risk” in relation to both these matters.

The Court stated that in assessing significant risk, it should be borne in mind that "significant" is a higher threshold than mere possibility of occurrence and it can be taken to mean "noteworthy, of considerable... importance".

In assessing the risk of further specified offences being committed, the Court should take into account the nature and circumstances of the current offence, the offender's history of offending (including kind of offence, its circumstances, sentence passed, whether offending demonstrates any pattern), social and economic factors in relation to the offender (including accommodation, employability, education, associates, relationships and drug and alcohol abuse), and the offender's thinking/attitude towards offending and supervision and emotional state.

The Court stated that such information most readily, though not exclusively, should come from antecedents and the pre-sentence report; in relation to such reports, the court will be guided, but not bound, by any assessment of risk. 

In assessing the risk of serious harm, Courts must guard against assuming there to be a significant risk of serious harm merely because the foreseen specified offence is serious. Where the foreseen specified offence is not serious, there will be comparatively few cases in which a risk of serious harm will properly be regarded as significant.

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    Serious harm

    Section 224 defines serious harm as “death or serious personal injury, whether physical or psychological”. As to the significance of the offender not having caused any harm when committing the index, or any prior, offence, this, the court said, may be advantageous to the offender, but it may be entirely fortuitous. The Court may wish to reflect on the likely response of the offender, if his victim, instead of surrendering, resolutely defended himself. It does not, therefore, follow from the absence of actual harm caused by the offender to date, that the risk that he will cause serious harm in the future is negligible.

    If serious harm has been caused in the index offence this is obviously something that the Court can take into account.

    Reasons

    The Court in Lang said that sentencers should usually give reasons (briefly identifying the information which they have taken into account) for all their conclusions, particularly as to whether there is or is not a significant risk of further offences or serious harm, and also for not imposing an extended sentence under section 227 and 228 where this is available.

    In giving of reasons for an indeterminate sentence, the Court said that there is a requirement that the sentencing remarks should explain the reasons which have led the court to its conclusion. The Court of Appeal will not normally interfere with the conclusions reached by a sentencer who has accurately identified the relevant principles, and applied his mind to the relevant facts.

    The case of Pedley Martin and Hamadi 2010 1 Cr App R (s) 24  has introduced an overall proportionality test where the degree or level of risk has now  to be balanced against the nature of the risk or the nature of the harm. Proportionality requires that only a relatively high risk of some lesser harm would be sufficient to justify preventative detention

    Our solicitors have successfully appealed sentences for public protection on the following grounds:

    • That the Judges have not adhered to the guidance as set out in Lang
    • Alternative sentences have not been considered
    • Full reasons have not been stated
    • The criteria has not been met to impose such a Draconian sentence
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