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Family of man jailed indefinitely enlist help of former home secretary

The family of a man jailed indefinitely have enlisted the help of the former home secretary who created the type of sentence he was given.

Thomas White, 40, was given a two-year minimum jail sentence under an IPP, an Imprisonment for Public Protection, back in 2012 for stealing a mobile phone.

The sentence was handed down four months before IPP sentences, first brought in by David Blunkett, were abolished, and 12 years later Mr White has no idea if he’ll ever be let out of prison.

IPPs were created to protect people from serious criminals who didn’t warrant life in prison. They gave offenders a minimum tariff to serve, after which they could apply to the parole board.

But having served a decade over his tariff, Thomas’s family say his mental health has severely deteriorated to the extent that he has now been diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffers from hallucinations.

Sister Clara White said he was “unrecognisable” from the 27-year-old who entered prison and he also has not seen his son at all since being sentenced.

Sky News last year reported on the plight of Thomas and Clara, and now, Ms White, and nephew Kayden, 14, have met with former home secretary Lord Blunkett to try to get Thomas the help they say he desperately needs.

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Kayden and Lord Blunkett during their meeting on February 22. Pic: Institute of Now
Image: Kayden and Lord Blunkett during their meeting on 22 February. Pic: Institute of Now

Lord Blunkett, who introduced IPPs back in 2003, since admitted he “got it wrong” and urged the sitting government to rectify his mistake as he supports the family in their push to get Mr White transferred to a hospital.

Clara and Lord Blunkett during their meeting on February 22. Pic: Institute of Now.
Image: Clara and Lord Blunkett during their meeting on 22 February. Pic: Institute of Now.

Clara told Sky News she was living through an unending “nightmare” and feared her brother would take his own life in prison. She added: “It’s still so overwhelming. For most of this time, it’s like I’ve been pushing this boulder up this hill on my own and now someone else is going to push with us.”

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In a statement, Lord Blunkett said: “I was very pleased indeed to meet Kayden and his aunt Clara in the House of Lords. I will continue to do my best to ensure that there is a satisfactory outcome: that we can facilitate and find ways of meeting Kayden’s needs; support his father into a positive outcome from his present situation in prison, and above all, ensure that those services funded to help develop a pathway and acceptable outcome work together to achieve a result.”

Thomas and Clara White, pictured as kids with their mum. Pic: Institute of Now
Image: Thomas and Clara White, pictured as children with their mother. Pic: Institute of Now

David Cameron’s coalition government abolished IPPs in 2012 but the decision wasn’t retrospective meaning those already serving, remained in prison. Today that number is said to stand at around 1,300 prisoners.

Sky News Source