A dad who was sent to prison indefinitely for robbing a phone has been granted permission to see his son for the first time in more than a decade.

Thomas White, from Bury, was given an 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.

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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.

In the 12 years since his imprisonment, he has been deprived of spending any time with his 14-year-old son Kayden, with the prison consistently citing concerns about Mr White’s mental health.

However, a development in March offered a glimmer of hope to reconnect the dad and son, when former Home Secretary Lord David Blunkett, the original architect of the IPP sentence - who has since admitted he “got it wrong” - met with Mr White’s sister, Clara White and Kayden in the House of Lords and listened to their plight.

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Lord Blunkett backed the plea to help Kayden visit his dad for the first time in 12 years and now their first visit has been confirmed later this month.

On hearing the news, Kayden burst into tears and initially did not believe it was true.

Margaret White, Thomas’s mother and Kayden’s grandmother, said: “My family has now lived for 12 agonising years trapped by this IPP sentence.

“We are eternally grateful to Lord Blunkett for his support and commitment to Thomas’s case.

“Lord Blunkett has listened to my family, and particularly Kayden, with nothing but compassion.

“I urge families who have suffered at the hands of IPP to dig deep and stand up to those who have robbed so much from life’s precious years.”

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Mr White’s mental health has drastically deteriorated while serving his sentence and he has recently been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

His family are seeking for him to be transferred to an institution, which can provide for his needs and Lord Blunkett has also pledged his support to help the family achieve this to prevent further damage to Mr White’s mental health.

In February, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We have reduced the number of unreleased IPP prisoners by three-quarters since we scrapped the sentence in 2012, with a 12 per cent fall in the last year alone where the Parole Board deemed prisoners safe to release.

“We have also taken decisive action to curtail licence periods and continue to help those still in custody to progress towards release including improving access to rehabilitation programmes and mental health support.”