New Judgment: R (Sturnham) v The Parole Board & Anor (No. 2)  UKSC 47
03 Wednesday Jul 2013
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 452.
The appellant, following a conviction for manslaughter, had a sentence of imprisonment for public protection imposed with a tariff period of two years and 108 days. Almost a year after the expiry of the tariff the Parole Board held a review of the appellant’s continued detention and concluded that although he had made significant progress, he continued to present a low risk of re-offending and a medium risk of serious harm to the public. The appellant issued judicial review proceedings, claiming that the Board had applied the wrong test; and damages for the delay in holding the review. The damages aspect was dealt with by the Supreme Court in  UKSC 23.
The Supreme Court granted permission to appeal but unanimously dismissed the appeal. By introducing sentences of imprisonment for public protection into the framework applicable to discretionary life sentences, Parliament must have intended that release from an IPP sentence should be subject to a like test as release from a discretionary life sentence. It is not helpful to define “significant risk” of future offending in terms of mathematical probability; a test of “good grounds” is more appropriate.
The case law of the European Court of Human Rights accepts a sufficient causal connection between the imposition of a sentence of IPP and the deprivation of the offender’s liberty in the post-tariff period when release is contingent on them demonstrating to the Parole Board that they no longer pose a risk.