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Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL14484, tabled on 23 March 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people are currently in prison serving a life sentence who have spent a total period of 10 years or more in custody having been either (1) unreleased, or (2) recalled.

Answered on

7 April 2021

The total number of life and imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence prisoners currently in prison, who have spent a total of at least 10 years in custody and who have either (1) never been released or (2) are in custody having been recalled, is provided below.

Sentence Type



IPP (10+ years in custody)



Life (10+ years in custody)



These figures have been drawn from the Public Protection Unit Database held by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. As with any large-scale recording systems, the figures are subject to possible errors with data migration and processing.

The total unreleased IPP population is reducing year on year - it stood at 1,849 as of 31 December 2020, down from 2,134 on 31 December 2019. IPP prisoners continue to have a high chance of a positive outcome from Parole Board hearings. In 2019/20 72% of Parole Board hearings resulted in either a recommendation for a progressive transfer to an open prison or release.

Offenders on licence in the community will be recalled to custody where they breach their licence conditions in such a way as to indicate that their risk has increased to the level where it may no longer be managed effectively in the community, even by the imposition of additional licence conditions and other controls. Recall is a vital measure to protect the public from those who are assessed as likely to commit further offences causing serious harm if they were to remain in the community.

The Government’s primary responsibility is to protect the public. HM Prison and Probation Service remains committed to supporting the progression of those serving IPP and life sentences in custody, so that the Parole Board may direct their release or, as the case may be, re-release, as soon as it is safe to do so.