Prisoner serving abolished indefinite sentence has release bid rejected by Parole Board

Prisoner serving abolished indefinite sentence has release bid rejected by Parole Board
  • PublishedMarch 28, 2024

Nicholas Bidar – who was sentenced to a minimum of eight years for a string of robberies and for using a gun to resist arrest – has described his continued detainment as “hell”.

A prisoner serving an indefinite jail sentence that was abolished more than a decade ago has lost his bid to be released.

Nicholas Bidar, 36, is one of thousands of offenders who remain behind bars on Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentences despite them being scrapped in 2012.

IPP sentences, which were introduced in 2005, have no release date and were intended for serious violent and sexual offenders who posed a significant risk of serious harm to the public but whose crimes did not warrant a life term.

Bidar became the first prisoner serving an IPP sentence to have his parole review heard in public after laws changed in a bid to remove the secrecy around the process.

He was aged 21 when he was jailed in 2009 for a string of robberies and using a gun to resist arrest.

He was sentenced to a minimum term of eight years but remains in prison seven years after the 2017 expiry date.

Bidar also escaped from custody in 2012 and committed an attempted robbery while absconding.

Earlier this month, Bidar told a public parole hearing at HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire, the maximum security jail where he is being held, that he was living in “hell”.

But a summary of a Parole Board decision said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was not satisfied that release at this point would be safe for the protection of the public.

“Nor did the panel recommend to the secretary of state that Mr Bidar should be transferred to an open prison.

“The panel could not be satisfied that his risk of absconding from an open prison would be low or that Mr Bidar’s risk to the public had reduced to a level that would be compatible with a place in an open prison.”

IPP sentences were included in the 2003 Criminal Justice Act and courts began imposing them two years later.

Although the government’s stated aim was public protection, concerns quickly grew that IPP sentences were being applied too broadly and catching more minor offenders – with many serving time in prison much longer than their initial term.

IPPs were then scrapped in 2012, but the change was not applied retrospectively.

The most recent statistics from the Ministry of Justice show 2,852 IPP prisoners remain behind bars, including 1,227 who have never been released.

There have been calls from campaigners and politicians for the government to re-sentence those still in jail – something the government has rejected over concerns it would compromise public safety.

Baroness Fox of Buckley has tabled an amendment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill which urges the government to commit to a resentencing exercise.

The bill is currently making its way through the House of Lords and will be debated and voted on after Easter.


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