The London Bridge ‘hero’ who could go to prison for 99 years podcast | News

On 29 November 2019, Mark Conway was due to give a speech at Fishmonger’s Hall in London. Conway, who works for the Prison Reform Trust, took part in a life-changing project while serving a sentence in prison which brought together prisoners and students from Cambridge. It was now his fifth anniversary and he was asked to say a few words at the celebration about it.

But when he went out for a cigarette break, another ex-offender from the course launched a terror attack, stabbing two Cambridge alumni. Conway was among those who chased down the attacker, who was wearing a fake suicide vest, and apprehended him.

He was hailed as a hero for his courage. But Conway says he was terrified all along that his actions could land him back in prison.

Like thousands of other offenders, Conway was sentenced to IPP – Imprisonment for the Public Protection. This meant that although his tariff was five years for armed robbery, he could be jailed for up to 99 years. He ended up serving eight years for that offence, but once he was released his IPP also meant he could be summoned for the slightest offense and detained indefinitely.

Guardian features writer Simon Hattonstone explains that a third of IPPs are given for minor offenses that carry rates of less than two years in prison. He says Michael Safi The IPP convictions have long been controversial and were overturned in 2012. But those previously convicted have been left in limbo. Many have taken their own lives.

Now a new bill making its way through parliament could make it possible for the IPP to end after five years. Yet campaigners say this does not go far enough and that everyone on the IPP should be re-sentenced – and the Justice Select Committee agrees. So why isn’t this being done?

A painting of Mark Conway with a beard on a dark background with light passing through it

Photo: Alecsandra Raluca Drăgoi/The Guardian

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