Monday, 11 August 2014

Centre for Crime Prevention on foreign criminals and open prisons

Peter Cuthbertson of the Centre for Crime Prevention was quoted in two crime stories today.

He told the Daily Mail, in response to news of a rapidly rising number of foreign criminals, including murderers, not being deported, that foreign overseas criminals would be "right to think coming here is a no-brainer given the … feebleness of our sentencing".

In response to news on the overuse of open prisons, meaning almost 1,000 criminals were returned to closed conditions after attempting escape or otherwise breaching the rules, he told the Daily Express:
“With so many hardened criminals breaking the rules of open prisons, or simply escaping, it is time to scale back radically the use of open prisons.”

Monday, 12 May 2014

11,670 serious offenders walked free from court with a suspended sentence - despite more than 10 previous convictions

Research from the Centre for Crime Prevention reveals an astonishing number of serious and repeat offenders’ prison sentences are being suspended by the courts.

Suspended sentences are now handed out for tens of thousands of violent, property and sexual offences each year, ranging from spitting at people to manslaughter. They include throwing fireworks into a crowd, theft, molesting children, assault, taking a bomb into a hotel running a brothel, benefit fraud, burglary, faking one's death, strangling a cat and sex with a dog. One judge claims they are being used “A bit like confetti”.

11,670 serious offenders had their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13 despite more than 10 previous convictions or cautions. 9,052 serious offenders had their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13 despite 15 or more previous conviction or cautions.

They are also failing to stop reoffending. Data from Freedom of Information requests reveals there were 110,745 cases of criminals sentenced last year despite one or more previous suspended sentences. There were 215 examples of criminals being found guilty despite 10 or more suspended sentences.

Almost one in three (31%) prison sentences were suspended in 2012 – up from 2% a decade ago.

Victoria, Australia is currently in the process of abolishing failing suspended sentences. In light of similar failings here, England and Wales should do the same.


Peter Cuthbertson, author of the report and Director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said:

“Thugs and sex offenders who think they are finally going to prison are overjoyed when find out that the prison sentence has been suspended. It makes a mockery of justice for victims and puts the public at great risk. These figures show that criminals given suspended sentences go on to commit hundreds of thousands of crimes. Suspended sentences should be abolished.”

The key findings of the report are:
  • There were 11,670 cases of serious offenders having their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13 despite more than 10 previous convictions or cautions.
  • There were 9,052 cases of serious offenders having their prison sentence suspended in 2012/13 despite 15 or more previous conviction or cautions.
  • In 2002, 2,519 prison sentences (2% of all prison sentences) were suspended. This rose to 44,644 (31% of all prison sentences) by 2012.
    • For violence against the person, the figure rose 14-fold from 504 in 2002 to 7,288 in 2012 (35% of all prison sentences for these violent offenders)
    • For sex offenders the figure rose 8-fold from 58 to 488 (1 in 8 of all prison sentences for sex offenders)
    • For burglars and other serious property offenders the figure rose 18-fold from 778 to 14,060.
  • Almost half (45%) of prison sentences for fraud were fully suspended.
  • 110,745 (22%) of the 510,065 sentences passed by courts in 2012/13 were to criminals who had previously had at least one prison sentence suspended. (There were 66,443 individual offenders in this category, some of which were sentenced more than once in this year.)
    • 48,108 were given to those with 2 or more previous suspended sentences;
    • 22,776 were given to those with 3 or more;
    • 5,678 were given to those with 5 or more;
       ​​
    • 215 were given to those with 10 or more; and
    • 17 were given to those with 15 or more
  • 34,733 (35%) of the 100,335 prison sentences handed down in 2012/13 were given to criminals who had previously had at least one prison sentence suspended.
    • 16,906 prison sentences were given to those who had previously been given 2 or more suspended sentences (10,865 individual offenders);
    • 8,444 to those previously given 3 or more;
    • 2,303 to those previously given 5 or more;
    • 650 to those previously given 7 or more; and
    • 96 to those previously given 10 or more
  • Those given suspended sentences between 2007 and 2011 have already reoffended 202,845 times.
  • Hertfordshire saw an 82-fold increase in the number of criminals whose prison sentence were suspended – from 10 (1 in 2,102) to 821 (1 in 28). The areas with the greatest increases were:
No. in 2002
1 in …
No. in 2012
1 in …
Increase (-fold)
% of prison sentences suspended (2002)
% of prison sentences suspended (2012)
1 Hertfordshire
10
2,102
821
28
82
1%
36%
2 Bedfordshire
10
1,301
346
43
35
1%
26%
3 Cambridgeshire
20
       457
678
22
34
2%
34%
4 Merseyside
41
    1,081
1,338
28
33
1%
32%
5 Cumbria
13
       877
409
28
31
1%
31%
6 Northamptonshire
16
       653
487
25
30
1%
25%
7 Lancashire
57
       846
1,693
24
30
2%
36%
8 Thames Valley
43
    1,074
1,239
31
29
2%
30%
9 Essex
42
    1,137
1,134
26
27
1%
33%
10 Cheshire
26
    1,095
692
28
27
1%
28%
  • More than four in ten prison sentences (42%) in Northumbria are suspended, up from 3% in 2002. The areas with the highest share of criminals sentenced to prison who have their sentences suspended are:


2002
1 in …
2012
1 in …
Increase (-fold)
% of prison sentences suspended (2002)
% of prison sentences suspended (2012)
1 Northumbria
89
       560
1,391
35
16
3%
42%
2 Cleveland
46
       446
730
23
16
3%
37%
3 Durham
28
       502
568
22
20
2%
37%
4 Hertfordshire
10
     ,102
821
28
82
1%
36%
5 Lancashire
57
       846
1,693
24
30
2%
36%
6 Devon and Cornwall
56
       642
980
24
18
3%
36%
7 Leicestershire
50
       598
835
23
17
2%
36%
8 Kent
132
       258
1,340
24
10
4%
35%
9 Suffolk
25
       637
464
32
19
3%
34%
10 Cambridgeshire
20
       457
678
22
34
2%
34%
  • Derbyshire is the area where the greatest share of all criminals receive a suspended sentence (1 in 17, up from 1 in 653 a decade earlier). The others are:

2002
1 in …
2012
1 in …
Increase (-fold)
% of prison sentences suspended (2002)
% of prison sentences suspended (2012)
1 Derbyshire
41
       653
980
17
24
2%
34%
2 West Midlands
129
       688
2,996
20
23
1%
31%
3 Durham
28
       502
568
22
20
2%
37%
4 Nottinghamshire
123
       236
1,168
22
9
4%
33%
5 Cambridgeshire
20
       457
678
22
34
2%
34%
6 Leicestershire
50
       598
835
23
17
2%
36%
7 Cleveland
46
       446
730
23
16
3%
37%
8 Devon and Cornwall
56
       642
980
24
18
3%
36%
9 Greater Manchester
119
       821
3,010
24
25
2%
32%
10 Lancashire
57
       846
1,693
24
30
2%
36%

See the Appendix for a full region by region breakdown.

To discuss the research or arrange broadcast interviews, please contact:
Peter Cuthbertson
Director, Centre for Crime Prevention
07590 033189