Philip Rule was asked to comment upon the sentence of imprisonment for public protection, IPP, that continues to leave thousands of individuals caught in a system that was in fact abolished four years ago, in 2012. It is in essence a life sentence but one that was applied to many less serious offenders and offences than it has ever been possible or proper to impose life sentences upon.

The documentary followed the lives and problems of some of those who are languishing inside, and the effect upon their families, and exposes a serious problem that has been sidelined by the Government and effectively ignored since 2012.

Philip has also previously written in The Times to highlight the plight of IPP prisoners and the recent judgment of the Lord Chief Justice that has urged that the problem be addressed by the Secretary of State for Justice.

Speaking to the programme Philip explained that whilst the failure of what was effectively an experiment with this sentence was now regretted by the Home Secretary who brought them in originally, and described as a “stain” on the British justice system by the Secretary of State who abolished them, they remain in operation for many of those caught by the unexpected, unintended and undesirable overuse of the sentence for those for whom it was not in fact originally intended at all.

Over 4000 prisoners remain in prison under this IPP sentence, over 3000 already having served any punitive aspect of their sentence but unable to secure release, and that has brought not only considerable challenge to the lives of those affected but it is also costing £150 million each year to the taxpayer.

Philip believes the BBC is to be congratulated for investigating this continuing stain on our civilised society, and the deplorable failures that continue to afflict prisoners who cannot access the proper opportunity to be released – unable to do so due to systemic delays and failings over which they have no control. The state must take responsibility for its failures that continue to lead to unnecessary prolongation of detention of many prisoners including some of the most mentally vulnerable within the prison system.

The programme, Inside Out London, aired on Monday 12th September, at 19:30, on BBC1. It is available for a period on BBC iPlayer here.

Philip was not asked to check the legal accuracy of the programme but was interviewed for comment.

Philip is available to provide expert analysis or comment upon topical legal issues, and for television and film productions requiring consultancy knowledge of the legal systems of England and Wales. He has fifteen years’ experience in practice at the English bar and a particular expertise in issues involving human rights, criminal law, public inquiry, inquest and prison law subjects.

Philip Rule is part of the Public Law Group at No5 Chambers, click here to view Philip’s profile.

If you have an enquiry of this nature and would like to discuss Philip providing insight or consultancy to your media project please email and Philip’s clerks will be able to pass on your direct contact details, or contact the marketing department at No5 Chambers on 0845 210 5555 or email