Thursday, 17 January 2013

New Centre for Crime Prevention report reveals soft justice for serious, repeat offenders

The Centre for Crime Prevention can reveal that since the financial crisis began, the courts have failed to lock up an increasing number of serious, repeat offenders. 64.9% of those convicted of serious offences who already had more than 10 previous convictions or cautions avoided prison in 2011/12 – 91,032 offenders. This is higher than the total prison population. Tens of thousands of repeat offenders are instead receiving fines, community service or a fully suspended sentence for crimes such as violence against the person, theft and sexual offences.



The key findings of the report are: 
  • In 2011/12, 68,100 received a penalty other than prison for a serious offence despite 15 or more previous convictions or cautions.
    • This compares to 49,729 in 2006/07 – a 38% increase.
    • A total of 108,119 serious offenders had 15 or more previous convictions/cautions, meaning 62.9% of them avoided prison.
  • The number of serious offenders who avoided prison despite more than 10 previous convictions/cautions rose from 71,301 in 2006/07 to 91,032 in 2011/12.
    • This is higher than the total prison population of 83,825 and represents a 27% increase.
    • A total of 140,168 serious offenders had more than 10 previous convictions/cautions, meaning 64.9% of them avoided prison.
  • The number of fully suspended sentences increased 31-fold for those with 15 or more previous convictions/cautions in the decade since 2001/02, from 270 to 8,284.
  • 11,810 serious offenders were discharged in 2011/12 although they had 15 or more previous convictions/cautions - a 30% rise from 9,086 in 2006/07.  This is in spite of statute laying down that courts may discharge offenders only in those cases where “it is inexpedient to inflict punishment”.
  • 20,879 received a community sentence for a serious offence after 15 or more previous convictions/cautions - a 47% rise from 14,236 in 2006/07.
  • 16,111 received a fine for a serious offence after 15 or more previous convictions/cautions - a 44% rise from 11,226 in 2006/07.
  • Of the minority who did go to prison for a serious offence in 2011/12, the average sentence was only 1 year 5 months.