Indeterminate sentences - disabled offenders

Posted: 27th June 2012

The Court of Appeal has questioned the imposition of Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPP) on disabled offenders.
Train 1A 24-year-old offender with the mental age of eight was given an IPP after he admitted robbing a 15-year-old boy of his mobile phone on a train in 2006.
The same year, he was sentenced to IPP and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 months before applying for parole. However, he remains in prison due to his inability to manage courses designed to address his offending behaviour and reduce his risk to the public.
Mr Justice Hedley told the Court of Appeal that the appellant has a personality disorder and an IQ of 58, putting him in the lowest 0.1 per cent of the population. He has the 'daily living skills' of a 10-year-old, but social and communication skills of a much lower age.
The judge said that the prison system should not be, and was never intended to be, a fail-safe device for those unable to live a socialised existence in the community. Having served almost six years in prison, it remains uncertain when, and if, the appellant can be released.
The Court dismissed the man's appeal, but observed that judges are in an almost impossible position when sentencing disabled offenders who are viewed as dangerous with a high risk of re-offending. In the circumstances, the sentencing judge had 'no choice' but to impose the indefinite sentence.