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  • Lord Moylan

Written Questions: IPP Prisoners and Licence Review

Lord Moylan: To ask His Majesty's Government how many people serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection sentence were eligible for a review of their licence, in each quarter since 2021; and of those how many referrals were made to the Parole Board for review.


Lord Moylan: To ask His Majesty's Government how many hearings were held by the Parole Board to review an imprisonment for public protection licence, in each quarter since 2021, and of those how many resulted in (1) termination of the licence, (2) variation of licence conditions, or (3) no change in licence conditions.


Lord Moylan: To ask His Majesty's Government how many people serving an imprisonment for public protection sentence were (1) transferred from prison to a secure hospital, and (2) held in a secure hospital, in each year since 2005.


Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bellamy, KC): Where 10 years have elapsed since the Parole Board first directed the release of an offender serving a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP), the Secretary of State must by law refer that offender to the Parole Board, in order for the Board to determine whether to terminate the offender's IPP licence. The minimum 10-year period is not paused or reset if an offender is recalled to prison or serves a subsequent sentence for further offences. Where the Parole Board does not terminate the licence, the Secretary of State must by law re-refer the offender every 12 months. This ensures that every eligible offender is considered by the Parole Board annually and will enable the IPP licence, and the IPP sentence as a whole, to be brought to an end for more offenders.


On 16 October 2023, the Lord Chancellor announced he would be looking at options to curtail the licence period to restore greater proportionality to IPP sentences in line with recommendation 8 of the report by the Justice Select Committee (JSC), published on 28 September 2022.


These changes are being taken forward in the Victims and Prisoners Bill.


The new measures will:

a. reduce the qualifying period which triggers the duty of the Secretary of State to refer an IPP licence to the Parole Board for termination from ten years to three years;

b. include a clear statutory presumption that the IPP licence will be terminated by the Parole Board at the end of the three-year qualifying period;

c. introduce a provision that will automatically terminate the IPP licence two years after the three-year qualifying period, in cases where the Parole Board has not terminated the licence; and

d. introduce a power to amend the qualifying period by Statutory Instrument.


The Lord Chancellor was persuaded by the Committee's recommendation to reduce the qualifying licence period from 10 years to 5 years and is going further: reducing the period to 3 years. These amendments will restore greater proportionality to IPP sentences and provide a clear pathway to a definitive end to the licence and, therefore, the sentence.


In addition to these changes, the actions this Government are taking are working; the number of prisoners serving the IPP sentence who have never been released now stands at 1,269 as of September 2023, down from more than 6,000 in 2012.


Table 1: Shows the number of offenders serving an IPP sentence under pre- and post-release supervision who are eligible to be considered for termination of their licence, at end of period, December 2020 to June 2023, England and Wales


Period Eligible


2021 Q1 187

2021 Q2 237

2021 Q3 299

2021 Q4 391

2022 Q1 477

2022 Q2 571

2022 Q3 662

2022 Q4 769

2023 Q1 842

2023 Q2 945


Please Note:

(1) This table includes IPP offenders who have been returned to custody following a recall.

(2) The figures in these tables have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.


Table 2: Shows the number of cases referred to the Parole Board


Period Referrals


2021 Q1 2

2021 Q2 8

2021 Q3 3

2021 Q4 9

2022 Q1 46

2022 Q2 42

2022 Q3 72

2022 Q4 69

2023 Q1 83

2023 Q2 147


Please Note:

(1) Figures could include cases where the offender became eligible for licence termination in previous quarter.

(2) Figures from Table 1 are snapshot figures and are not comparable to figures in Table 2.


Table 3: Shows the outcome of licence termination applications in each quarter since 2021


Outcome Period Terminated Suspended/Varied Refused


2021 Q1 1 0 1

2021 Q2 3 0 0

2021 Q3 3 1 2

2021 Q4 4 0 2 2022 Q1 21 5 10

2022 Q2 25 7 12

2022 Q3 22 8 18

2022 Q4 28 6 46

2023 Q1 25 6 23

2023 Q2 38 14 72


Table 4: Shows the number of people serving an IPP sentence that were transferred from prison to a secure hospital, and held in a secure hospital, in each year, since 2009


Year No of transfers in year No in Secure Hospitals at year-end

2009 54 472

2010 107 467

2011 100 438

2012 86 380

2013 90 328

2014 88 264

2015 72 274

2016 66 274

2017 59 278

2018 65 282

2019 59 276

2020 55 275

2021 39 287

2022 44 262


Please Note:

(1) We do not hold figures prior to 2009 as the data entry system which holds these data was implemented in 2009 and data prior to this period are not of sufficient quality to allow for the breakdown requested.

(2) The number of transfers is not the same as the number of offenders transferred as there could be more than on transfer associated with an offender in a year.

(3) These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. Consequently, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.



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