The family of a man who was sent to prison indefinitely for stealing a phone are being helped by the senior politician who rolled out the type of controversial sentence he was given.

Dad-of-one Thomas White, from Bury, was given a Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence in 2012 after robbing a mobile phone.

IPPs were a type of indeterminate sentence courts could impose after being introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Nearly 3,000 prisoners, many of whom are very low-level offenders, remain in prisons today on such sentences.

Mr White, who is said to have a history of committing petty crimes, was ordered to serve a minimum of two years, only a few months before IPPs were abolished.

Mr White, who has a teenage son, Kayden, has been in jail for 12 years with no sign of a release date. 

His sister Clara White has spent years campaigning against the sentence.

Mr White's mental health has been damaged, with him recently being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Now, Lord David Blunkett, who served as Home Secretary from 2001 to 2004 and was the architect behind IPPs, is helping the family after meeting with Clara and Kayden and apologising over the situation.

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Lord Blunkett has pledged his support to help the family in their fight to get Mr White transferred to a hospital where he can access crucial mental health support.

The Labour peer has also committed to helping Kayden see his dad in prison for the first time.

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."

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Clara said: “My family has now lived for 12 miserable years trapped by this IPP sentence – it is hellish.

“The only apology we have had in the last 12 years is from Lord Blunkett himself.

"Lord Blunkett listened to Kayden with much compassion.

“The relentless nightmares of not knowing if my brother will die in prison by suicide are exhaustive.

"I pray to God we are not next in line to get a call from custody to say my brother has taken his life.

“I pray no family gets that call. Sadly, many families have already received that call, and will continue to do so in the future as the death rates from this horrific sentence increase.”