Monday, 29 December 2014

16th December 2014
Dear Mr
Re: Your Letter
I write in connection with the above which was received by me on the 15th December 2014.
You are entirely correct in what you say, and I am very conscious of the fact that the daily struggles experienced by lifer prisoners are not just problems suffered by IPP inmates.
In the New Year, I propose, having received your letter, to draft an article in Inside Time concerning all lifer inmates and not just to restrict myself to IPP prisoners.
Your letter was very well received. 
Yours sincerely
David Wells
 The above is a copy of a email sent to my son and below is an excerpt from the inside times for December 2014

Over-tariff IPPs: an appeal for your stories

By David Wells - Partner, Wells Burcombe Solicitors, from insidetime issue December 2014
Two years ago the then Justice Secretary announced that IPP sentences were being abolished...

Over-tariff IPPs: an
appeal for your stories
Two years ago the then Justice Secretary announced that IPP sentences were being abolished. This was undoubtedly good news for those practising within the criminal justice system, but regrettably of no comfort to those serving IPP sentences at the time as the announcement was not applied retrospectively. This means that there are still thousands of IPP inmates left rotting in a prison system clearly incapable of addressing the rehabilitative requirements designed to reduce risk.
But there are still criminal practitioners, like me, and others outside the criminal justice system who take a great deal of interest in IPP prisoners. One such person is a journalist from the BBC, Zoe Conway, who reported on IPP prisoners for BBC Newsnight earlier this year. She wishes to continue to highlight the plight of those affected by this most draconian sentence. She has visited and listened to numerous family members who report the daily struggles of inmates to access courses and to prepare properly for parole board hearings. She and I discussed the recent debate in the House of Lords which announced new government figures which show that 121 people sentenced before 2008 to a tariff of 12 months or less are still languishing in prison. 8 of them were given tariffs of 3 months, 22 tariffs of less than 6 months and yet they are still inside. She quite rightly stated that most people would be surprised and perhaps shocked by this. Indeed, one House of Lords Peer when he learned of the many inmates well beyond tariff said 'how can that be justified.' He is right. It can't.
Even the Justice Secretary who abolished the sentence two years ago described the sentence itself as a stain on the criminal justice system. But perhaps even more alarmingly, the man responsible for the sentence all those years ago, the then Home Secretary David Blunkett, told BBC Newsnight that the sentence had in some cases led to 'injustices' and said ''I regret that''. He also told Zoe Conway, in her interview with him, that the Labour government ''got the implementation wrong''. He acknowledged that the problems with access to courses and the serious lack of resources generally was not foreseen. That statement alone is nothing short of shocking.
IPP sentences were to be reserved for only the most seriously violent and sexual offences. It was anticipated that this would affect about 900 prisoners. In 2011 there were 6000 IPP inmates. Now there are 5,500 and two-thirds of these are over tariff.
So what can be done? Apart from continuing to consider appealing IPP sentences where this has not been considered previously, and focusing on parole and sentence plan targets as best as possible in order to support release, individuals like Zoe Conway, who have great influence in the media can help. What is her aim? Well, she wants to find out who these inmates are serving these shorter tariffs, why they are still in prison and whether they are able to access courses and parole board hearings. She would like to tell individual and collective stories for broadcast on national news.
It is for this reason that I invite all such IPP inmates to write to me to share your stories. If you agree to share your plight with her through me, you can write to me and I will pass on your correspondence. You do not have to agree to have your name published or made public. You can simply share your story, the problems you have faced and obviously your own views on the position you face.
For my part, my firm continues to do all it can to ensure natural progression and even release for IPP inmates. Wells Burcombe have enjoyed much success at the Appeal Courts and have enjoyed equal success before the Parole Board. Wells Burcombe continue to receive numerous enquiries from IPP inmates concerning Parole. Should you have a pending Parole review or wish for advice concerning appealing your IPP sentence, simply write to us at the address below.
Wells Burcombe Solicitors
5 Holywell Hill, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 1EU

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