Indeterminate Custodial Sentences (ICS)

In any case where a life sentence is not appropriate for a person convicted of a serious sexual or violent offence, the court can impose an ICS or ECS. Where the court deems that an ECS would not be adequate for the purposes of protecting the public, then an ICS will be imposed.

An ICS is a public protection sentence introduced for offences committed on or after 15th May 2008, where an offender has committed a serious sexual or violent offence listed in schedule 1 of the Order and the court believes that the offender is likely to commit similar offences in the future.

No release date is given for an ICS. Offenders serving an ICS will be given a “tariff” date which is the earliest date that they may become eligible for consideration for release by the PCNI. The tariff is a minimum of 2 years. A referral will be made to PCNI by the Department of Justice to consider release approximately 6 months before the tariff date, under Article 18.

An ICS prisoner will remain in custody until they have demonstrated to the satisfaction of the PCNI that they can be released safely into the community.

Where the decision has been taken not to release a prisoner at the tariff date, the Department of Justice must refer the case to the PCNI within 2 years, or sooner if recommended by the panel. It is common practice for the Commissioners to recommend a review period which is less than this.

ICS prisoners who are released will be subject to standard licence conditions as well as bespoke conditions prescribed by the Department of Justice, which will remain in place for at least 10 years after the release date and potentially for the rest of their lives. During the licence period, conditions of a licence can be added, varied or cancelled in consultation with the PCNI. An offender is liable for recall to custody if they breach their conditions.

Licences may cease to have effect when:

a) the licence is revoked by the Department of Justice and the prisoner recalled to prison where it is considered that it is necessary for the protection of the public. Ordinarily this will happen through a referral by PBNI to the PCNI for the recommendation of a revocation but can happen in urgent situations without an initial recommendation; or

b) a prisoner applies to the PCNI after 10 years on licence, to consider if it is necessary to remain under the licence.

Once recalled an offender must remain in custody until released by the PCNI.