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House of Commons event held on Sarah Smart research on IPP sentenced women

Image of MP Jo Stevens, Fellow Sarah Smart and guest Charlotte at House of Commons Seminar
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 12:17pm

On Thursday 21st March Jo Stevens MP hosted a round table discussion in the House of Commons to debate the findings and recommendations of Griffins Fellow Sarah Smart's research on women serving Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPP).  Sarah's research highlighted the plight of these 'forgotten' women.  Despite the sentence being abolished in 2012, recently published figures (24th April 2018) show there are 74 women in prison on IPP, 96% of whom are over-tariff.  Her research provides the first empirical exploration of female prisoners on IPP still in prison. 

As Sarah said: "The impetus for this piece of research came from meeting a number of women (..who were serving Indeterminate Sentences for Pulic Protection..) in my role in the Mental Health In-Reach team of a women’s prison ....  Their sense of being lost and stuck in the creaking penal system, many years over tariff, led to a profound, palpable and disabling sense of hopelessness....The specific and all-pervasive impact of serving an indeterminate sentence is shown to have a profoundly negative effect on mental health, ability to engage and therefore progress towards risk reduction and release.

We were delighted that taking part in the discussion were the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Parole Board, as well as the Deputy Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and the women's lead from HMI Prisons. Professor Nick Hardwick gave a repsonse to Sarah's research before the discussion was opened up to all present.  We hope there will be some traction on this issue soon.  It cannot be right that for many of these women, the longer they stay in prison, the more profound their mental health issues become and the less likely they will be released under the current regulations.