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  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.