MoJ ‘acted unlawfully’ over indeterminate detention

The government has acted unlawfully by keeping prisoners in custody without the opportunity to show they are safe for release, it has been ruled.

The court of appeal upheld an earlier ruling that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was acting unlawfully by not enabling inmates on indeterminate sentences to attend the courses necessary for parole.

Under indeterminate sentences for public protection (ISPP) prisoners are handed a minimum tariff but further have to prove they no longer pose a threat to the public before they can be released.

This is done by attending parole courses, but prisoners in some jails have complained these are not accessible, essentially condemning them to prolonged arbitrary detention.

In July last year the court of appeal upheld a complaint by sex offender David Walker that he was unable to show he was safe for release because his jail did not offer the necessary course. This, his lawyers argued, amounted to arbitrary detention.

Today’s further judgement followed an appeal by the MoJ.

The department says a review of ISPP is underway. The MoJ also said a review was ongoing following the ruling in July.

The court of appeal also upheld a previous ruling by the high court that the parole board is insufficiently independent from government.