Human rights judges have today given their decisions on complaints by prisoners subject to indeterminate sentences of imprisonment for the public protection (“IPP sentences”) in the United Kingdom.
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of James, Wells and Lee v. the United Kingdom (application nos. 25119/09, 57715/09 and 57877/09), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held:
unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the applicants’ detention following the expiry of their tariff periods and until steps had been taken to progress them through the prison system with a view to their access to appropriate rehabilitative courses; and,
by six votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 5 § 4 (right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court) concerning Wells’ and Lee’s complaint about the possibility of their release.
The Court found in particular that the considerable delays in the applicants making any progress in their sentences had been the result of lack of resources, planning and realistic consideration of the impact of the sentencing scheme introduced in 2005, despite the fact that it had been premised on the understanding that rehabilitative treatment would be made available to those prisoners concerned.
Indeed, these deficiencies had been the subject of universal criticism in the domestic courts and had resulted in a finding that the Secretary of State had breached his public law duty.