'Emotional' reunion for father and son separated for more than a decade over theft of a mobile phone

  • Kayden White spoke exclusively to Granada Reports' Emma Sweeney about his 'emotional' reunion with his dad

A prisoner given a controversial Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence has finally met his son after being denied access for more than a decade.

Thomas White, from Bury, is one of nearly 3,000 prisoners locked up under the now defunct law, which sets a minimum but not a maximum term in prison.

Now after 10 years of campaigning, Thomas has finally been allowed to meet his son Kayden, whom he last saw as a baby, in what has been described as a 'very emotional' reunion.

Thomas White last saw his son Kayden when he was a baby Credit: Family Photo

Kayden White is now 14-years-old and says when he finally got to meet his father, it was 'dead emotional'.

"Everyone was just crying," he said. "My nana was bawling her eyes out, the social worker was crying - it was all dead emotional.

"I also shed a few tears."

Thomas White was given a minimum of two years in prison in 2012 after being convicted of street robbery after stealing a mobile phone during a night out.

He has been in prison ever since.

IPP sentences were abolished in 2012, however many prisoners like Thomas are still imprisoned under the sentence.

It was only after a recent intervention from Lord David Blunkett (who introduced IPPs in 2005) that the family were helped to gain visiting permissions for the father and son.

Thomas has now been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and his family believe the probable cause for that is the hopelessness of never knowing if he will ever be released.

Kayden told ITV's Granada Reports he feels angry it has taken this long to allow him to meet his dad.

"I just hope no other child has to go through what I did. It shouldn't have taken so long - it is not right," he said.

The family are calling for Thomas to be moved to a mental health institution.

Meanwhile pressure is growing on the UK Government and the Justice Minister Alex Chalk to review IPPs as a matter of urgency.

90 suicides have been recorded by prisoners on IPPs since 2005, making them twice as likely than other prisoners to take their own lives.

The Prison Governors' Union has described IPPs as 'the blot on our legal system', whilst a senior coroner said they were 'inhumane and indefensible' and warned they would kill more if the Government doesn't act fast.

It comes as the Lords are due to vote on crucial IPP amendments to the Victims and Prisoners Bill in May 2024.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We have reduced the number of unreleased IPP prisoners by three-quarters since we scrapped the sentence in 2012, but retrospectively changing sentences poses a risk to public safety because offenders who the Parole Board have deemed unsafe for release, many of whom have committed serious violent or sexual offences, would leave prison without probation supervision and support.

"We continue to help those still in custody to progress towards release – including improving access to rehabilitation programmes and mental health support – and the number of IPP prisoners has fallen 12% in the last year alone.”

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