Following a protest yesterday at HMP Cardiff against the continuing illegal detention of thousands of people in British prisons with no release date, a lobby of Parliament on July 5th and a noise protest at HMP Risley in Warrington on July 8th will be next in what was going to be a fortnight of actions — but is now likely to stretch over most of a month.
At yesterday’s demo Smash IPP reported that prisoners and protesters made a lot of noise and flew bog roll banners out of the window. Kids gave out leaflets to the public while members of the IWW union, Prisoners Voice, No Prisons De Cymru and Smash IPP were there to support the women organising the demo, who said members of their family had been targeted by “officer White.” Families and friends of IPP prisoners as well as a recently released IPP prisoner were present holding placards.
More than 3,989 people are serving IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) sentences, which allow the State to jail people for relatively minor crimes but then define them as dangerous to the public and hold them in prison indefinitely. Over 80% of prisoners have now served their formal sentence and are in specifically due to IPP. The practice was found to break human rights law and repealed in 2012, but most prisoners are yet to be freed.
As part of the 2017 Year of Resistance against IPP Sentences, the families of prisoners based in Preston are highlighting the case of Ian Hartley, who was sentenced to 38 months in 2005 but has been inside for 12-and-a-half years with no end in sight for his sentence. In a statement, they said:
Like thousands of other people on Indeterminate Sentences (IPP) across the UK, he has suffered from the despair of not knowing if or when he will be released. If prison is truly about rehabilitation how can anyone grow when they have no idea when their sentence ends?
Indeterminate sentences fly in the face of justice – join the protest. Demand freedom for all IPPs immediately.
The action comes slightly ahead of the fortnight of action from July 9th-23rd, which includes events in Bristol on July 14th, Devizes on July 16th and Peterborough on July 23rd. In a statement on the campaign, Smash IPP said:
Five years since the sentence was legally abolished, thousands still languish in jails with no release date. Parole board delays, prison overcrowding, and sheer neglect is leading to unprecedented rates of prisoner suicides and self-harm. 80% are over tariff and desperate to be free. THIS FORTNIGHT IS FOR THEM.
The time is now to escalate and generate unrelenting pressure on the government, prison profiteers and the parole boards who are all complicit in ripping families apart, ruining lives and killing working class young people who have died as a result of the mental strain of being an IPP.
This fortnight of action is dedicated to Charlie Noakes, an IPP prisoner who died on July 23rd 2016 as a result of prison neglect and the despair of this sentence. Let’s make this an amazing fortnight of action in honour of the life HMP stole.
Suggestions for action
Smash IPP is asking people to organise actions in their area. Suggested actions may include:
- Noise demos at prisons where IPP prisoners are imprisoned
- Days of action at local Probation Offices. Find your nearest office in the directory here.
- Organising actions against HMPPS (Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service), the replacement to NOMS (National Offender Management Service)
- Organising communication blockades against the above organisations integral to the prison service continuing this injustice
- Demonstrating at the Houses of Parliament
- Targeting the Justice Secretary who has the power to turn these sentences into determinate sentences and end this nightmare
- Demonstrating and pressuring the Parole Board
- IPP Prisoner letter writing events
- Smash IPP fundraising events
- Organising info nights, workshops & awareness raising events about this brutal sentence
- Doing stalls at local prisons to connect with prisoner families
- Demonstrating in your local town centre to raise awareness about IPPs
- Banner drops
- …. The options are endless!
Not connected to anyone locally? Get in touch! Smash IPP may be able to connect you with local contacts and prisoner families.
Know an IPP prisoner who would benefit from some solidarity actions as part of this campaign? Or would like to have letters from people showing support? Let us know!
Smash IPP can help with leaflets, stickers and other materials. We are also available to do talks and workshops about IPP if needed or can link you up with people that can.
Please contact us with your any of your publicly advertised plans so we can help promote them, otherwise don’t forget to send us your action reports.
This article was edited on July 2nd to include yesterday’s demo in Cardiff and correct the location of HMP Risely.