Manchester bike robber jailed at 17 ‘gives up hope of release’

A man who remains in prison after he was jailed aged 17 for stealing a bike has given up hope of being released, his family has said.

Wayne Bell was given a now-obsolete type of indefinite sentence for robbery in 2007.

Now 29, he has suffered a mental breakdown and feels “trapped” after being repeatedly turned down for release, his relatives said.

The Parole Board said its was handling cases as quickly as possible.

Mr Bell received the Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence in 2007 after he was arrested for taking a bike from a boy he assaulted in Withington, Manchester.

He was told he would serve a minimum sentence of four years for the crime.

Mr Bell’s father, Carl, said his son had gone before the Parole Board every two years but had been denied release for a number of reasons.

His son had been unable to access courses to tackle issues including anger management because they were oversubscribed, he said.

Mr Bell said his son had been an “easy target” for other inmates which had led to him becoming involved in fights and further hampered his release.

“We are all hoping, but Wayne has given up.

“He’s 29 years old and he’s had no life.”

He said the abolition of IPP sentences in 2012 had come too late for his son and called on the government to release him.

Indeterminate sentences

Introduced in 2005, IPPs sentenced offenders to a minimum term set by a judge, after which they could apply to the Parole Board for release.

At one stage there were 6,080 IPP prisoners in England and Wales, representing 7% of the total jail population.

The Parole Board may only approve release if it believes an offender is safe to rejoin the community.

IPPs were abolished in 2012 after it emerged they were being used more widely than intended – and in some instances for low-level crimes.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has called on the government to “urgently” review the detention of IPP prisoners who have served their minimum tariff.

Former home secretary David Blunkett has expressed “regret” that the sentences, brought in while he was in office, have led to “injustices”.

Withington MP Jeff Smith said: “This example highlights that IPPs were completely unsatisfactory.”

The Parole Board said it had made significant progress by cutting IPP prisoner numbers to 2,489 as at June 2018.

A spokesman added: “While a number of IPPs remain in the system, we are working to progress as many as we can, when it is safe to do so.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “All such prisoners who have served their tariff have the opportunity to apply to the independent Parole Board and demonstrate that they are no longer a threat to society.”