Jailed for Life for Minor Crimes: The UK’s Forgotten Prisoners

James Burns is voluntarily spending 30 days in solitary confinement. Learn more about the project at

In a three-month investigation, VICE News uses Freedom of Information laws, exclusive interviews, and prison reports to uncover the scandal of the 4,612 prisoners serving life sentences under abolished legislation — some for relatively minor crimes.

From 2005, judges in England and Wales started giving out a new kind of life sentence for offenses such as shoplifting, minor criminal damage, and affray (fighting in public).

Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection (IPPs) were found to breach the European Convention on Human Rights, and the government scrapped the sentence in 2012. But nobody did anything about the prisoners already inside.

Three-quarters of them have completed their mandatory minimum sentence, but still have no release date, at a cost to the taxpayer of $180 million a year. Sixteen inmates have killed themselves since the sentence’s abolition.

Speaking to inmates, their families, lawyers, and a Parole Board veteran, VICE News exposes the UK’s forgotten prisoners.

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Read “Exclusive: VICE News Investigates the UK’s 4,500 Prisoners Doing Life for Minor Crimes” –

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43 thoughts on “Jailed for Life for Minor Crimes: The UK’s Forgotten Prisoners

  1. The IPP sentence was given to offenders who had committed two serious crimes. They could be released after a relatively short period but if their behaviour in prison suggested they  were reformed they would not be released. Unfortunately it failed because most of the people who were given it carried on behaving in the same way, they had always behaved and so were never considered suitable for release. Oh yes and sex offenders were also given IPP sentences so some of these people we are talking about here will be sex offenders.

  2. My mate Simon Whelan from Leeds as just done 10 years when he got ipp with a couple of years for stabbing a lad who was scaring he's poor mother
    Google him
    IIP should be for nonces but more stricter like do courses n sign on a probation every day
    My mate thought he wasn't gonna get out for sticking up for his poor mum 😡
    Simon whelan jailed Leeds crown court

  3. This government needs kick up the back side!! I know what this feels like back in 2005 i received Ipp with recommendation of 3 n half year after serving 9 year I got out , been recalled twice 1st time 7 month 2nd 18 month

  4. Dear People

    This Documentary was pointless, have no sympathy for those in prison who are Guilty of crimes. The judge doesn't truly give a damn and he's retired, only speaking here as his voice is now meaningless.
    When he said IPP's are generally not the most dangerous prisoners.. it's misleading as what that really means, is that they are not serial killers, rapists, peados or Big Time Crims! it doesn't mean none of them are evil and harmless though.
    They are in between the worst and least and typically prolific petty offenders and small time crims who never gave a damn about about doing a few weeks, months or a year or 2 in jail hence Jail being a holiday camp for them.
    So iPP was introduced to make them give a shit AND it does work for a lot of people, although it's created a back log of cases to deal with.

    The Guys mum at the end is dumb. "How can you be too supportive" it's called spoiling your child or being an enabler… People should realise that the parole board and such aren't mindless morons and can tell if someone has truly changed, people who haven't who will go before the board and just tell them what they wanna hear are going to be obvious because a true change is beyond the words you speak.. There's also courses in prison that you can take and have to, for parole that address behaviours, thinking, attitude, substance abuse and stuff which plenty of prisoners doing them for the sake of it rather then because they want to change. the staff doing them take notes all along and write reports on each prisoner doing it and the courses are over week or months. So the parole board has their input too to draw on when making the decision and the wing reports, Therefore those trying to fake their way to a release or early release are just setting themselves for dissapointment, nobody can fake it all the time and they don't as the mask always comes off and slips at times.
    These people skulk around prisons angry and blaming the parole board, the courts, the judges, the screws and such when it's really them to blame.

  5. IPP means he’s been given 99 years for public protection. There’s a lot of IPP prisoners still who’ve been in since 2000 or before! As I was released a month ago and there’s loads in there just getting on with it.. feel bad for them but it’s because they have repeatedly offended, more than once and usually it’s for violent or sexual crimes or similar.. they didn’t give IPP for nothing! But they do seem forgot about, something does need to be done about getting them out

  6. 0:36 Moral to the story: Stay out of the pubs and don't get into fights. This guy could have just as easily killed the guy he was in the fight with. Geez he hit a guy in the head with a weapon. He revealed that he gets violent when he drinks. Is this considered a lesser crime than getting drunk and shooting somebody? Any report on his behavior while in prison? More temper tantrums or what? What about the guy he hit in the head. Was he disabled because of it? We should analyze some of these cases without feelings and with facts.

  7. that is ridiculous, indeterminate prison sentence for SHOPLIFTING. just imagine the parole hearing for one of those guys, the fucking kangaroo court nature of it, those heavy handed fucks discussing amongst themselves if he's still "a danger to society". LOL. jesus christ.

  8. This is a legacy of Labour. When they came in in 1997. Prison population was 40,000. When they left in 2010 the prison population doubled. Labour turned UK into a police state.

  9. These sentence guidelines were handed by Angela Merkel for UK citizens. It's funny how she never implemented ipp on her own citizens especially that guy with the sniper who killed those people on the island. Wake up people purge the government

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