Dad of IPP Prisoner: 'how long do they want to keep him... until he's in a box?'

Watch Kris Jepson's report about Danny Weatherson, who is still in prison 19 years after he attempted to steal a coat and mobile phone

The father of a Newcastle man, who has been in prison for 19 years because he attempted to steal a coat and mobile phone, has told ITV News it was a "set back" when the Labour Party failed to back a change to the parole process this week in the House of Lords.

For the low level crime Danny Weatherson, 35, committed, he was told he should have served just 15 months, but he has now spent more than half his life behind bars.

Danny Weatherson was released in September 2023 after serving 18 years in prison under an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence. IPPs were abolished in 2012, but the cases were not backdated, leaving nearly 3,000 prisoners still languishing in cells.

Victims and Prisoners Bill given Royal Assent Credit: ITV News

On Friday 24 May 2024, the Victims and Prisoners Bill was given Royal Assent, but the Labour Party failed to back an amendment tabled by the Tory peer, Lord Moylan, which campaigners said would have changed the parole process to potentially enable more IPP prisoners to be released.

Under the amendment, the Parole Board would have had to prove that an IPP offender was too dangerous to be released, rather than the prisoner having to prove they were no risk to the public.

Maurice Stevens, Danny's dad, told ITV News: "Thousands of people around the country have been set back, yet again, because they could have been released, like within the next six months, 12 months, instead of lying there for another five years. They say on the one hand that they were given to the wrong type of offenders. Low level offenders doing a life sentence. It’s just so wrong. Somebody in prison for 19 years for a low level offence."

He went onto to explain that Danny has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which has compounded his anger at his son's ongoing incarceration.

He added: "I'm devastated, because we’ve waited all this time. They’ve already took your kid away from you for 19 years, and now they’re telling you that he’s got a condition like Parkinson’s disease... What do they want from him? How long do they want to keep him for? Until he’s in a box?"

Prison fence Credit: ITV News

A Labour spokesperson told ITV News: "It is right that IPP sentences were abolished and we supported the government’s decision to bring forward a statutory action plan in the recent Victims and Prisoners Bill.

"Public protection is at the centre of our approach. It is not possible to make assessments on the individual needs of IPP offenders from Opposition without the relevant information, which is confidential.

"In government, Labour will work at pace to make progress on IPPs and we will consult widely to ensure any action plan is effective and based on the evidence."