Thursday, 31 January 2013

Police are right to take youth crime seriously

In response to the latest figures on arrests of under-18s, Peter Cuthbertson told
These figures reflect a fall in offending, but youth crime remains a major problem and police are right to take it seriously.
Nearly all of these 200,000 arrests were for serious crimes like violence, theft and burglary. It is vital for public safety that strong punishment follows arrest for young thugs.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

CCP comments on new CPS guidelines

In response to the new guidelines for the Crown Prosecution service, Peter Cuthbertson was quoted in yesterday's Daily Telegraph:
It is very worrying that new reasons to avoid prosecutions are being proposed.
 Crime should not be shrugged off on grounds of proportionality.
This morning, Cuthbertson argued on BBC Radio Humber alongside Karl Turner MP and representatives from the CPS and local police. He said:
I think people are right to be very concerned. First of all, no offence ever feels minor to the victim and it's often so-called minor offences that do the most to ruin people's quality of life. Second, there's so much evidence that zero tolerance of less serious offences is the key to ridding an area of serious crimes. Usually by the time someone is caught they have already committed a string of offences so it's very dangerous not to take it seriously at this point.
Already the CPS takes a view that it won't proceed with cases that haven't much chance of prosecution so that's not new. I think the key line in the new guidance was that they need to consider "[t]he cost to the CPS ... where it could be regarded as excessive when weighed against any likely penalty". I think that's the point: we have extremely light penalties for so many crimes. Even those sent to prison for more serious offences only get an average of 9 months in prison. If prosecutors feel punishments are so light it's not worth taking criminals to court then it's the punishments that should be changed so that's no longer true.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Telegraph mentions Sentencing Gap report from the CCP

In today's Telegraph, Wesley Johnson reflects on the overuse of cautions. He repeats figures from the Centre for Crime Prevention's Sentencing Gap report:
It comes after a report by the Centre for Crime Prevention found earlier this month that more than 90,000 of the worst serial offenders avoided jail last year as the numbers soared by a quarter in five years.
They were handed cautions, fines and community sentences by police and the courts after going back to crime. 
Campaigners said there were now more serious, repeat offenders on the streets than there were jail places, as the figures fuelled fears that the criminal justice system is soft on repeat offenders. 
The number of repeat offenders with at least 15 previous convictions or cautions rose by a third last year to 108,119 from 81,204 in 2006/7, while the number with at least 10 previous convictions or cautions was up by a quarter from 112,956 to 140,168.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Heffer says more prisons needed to protect the public

In his column in today's Daily Mail, Simon Heffer attacks Labour's opposition to more prisons. He mentions the findings of last week's report from the Centre for Crime Prevention, the Sentencing Gap:
"Labour has opposed plans to build more prisons. Given that more than 90,000 criminals with several serious convictions are at large because of our already too lenient penal policy, how does that square with the need to protect the public?"

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Transparency and scrutiny are essential to justice

It is unwelcome that a notorious killer is to have his identity hidden under human rights legislation, as he argues his case for moving to an open prison. Transparency is essential to public confidence in the criminal justice system. Granting anonymity to the most serious offenders prevents public scrutiny and accountability, undermining the courts as well as the rights of law-abiding members of the public.

The Centre for Crime Prevention is quoted in today's Daily Mail story on this case.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Surrey burglar cautioned after 113 offences

Peter Cuthbertson responds in the Daily Mail to the news of the burglar who received a mere caution after admitting 113 offences.

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.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Youth crime is a real problem

The Daily Telegraph reports that just ten children in Edinburgh are responsible for about 800 crimes across the city.
The tearaways make up a list of the worst young offenders in the capital, with three notching up 100 or more charges, including housebreaking, joyriding and robbery.

One 15-year-old boy from the east of the city has committed 117 offences in two years to become the most prolific under-16 criminal, while an 11-year-old boy from north Edinburgh is also among the ten worst, with a criminal record which includes sexual assault, assault and robbery, and car theft. 
[One] officer, who spoke anonymously, added: "It's terrible to say but some of them may be beyond help, even when they are 14 or 15. For many officers, the same names come up time and again from a young age.

"These kids know that the law basically can't do much until they reach the adult courts. Until that time you're trying to limit the damage. Some might turn it around but others are already on their way to a life of crime."
This grim reality highlights the dangers of regular calls for underage criminals to be treated more gently, and for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised. Last month, for example, the Howard League for Penal Reform released a report attacking police for the number of under-18s they arrested - as if the number of crimes underage thugs commit is beside the point. The consequence of going easy on youth offending is hundreds more crimes and many more victims of all ages.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Visible and available policing: the most and least efficient forces

Peter Cuthbertson of the Centre for Crime Prevention reviews in a report for the TaxPayers Alliance how effectively the 43 police forces are at get out police in front line roles. While some back office police work is important, the number of officers who are "visible and available" at any one time is key to cutting crime.

Nonetheless, less than 12 per cent of police officers and Police Community Support Officers’ (PCSO) time is “visible and available” to the public. Because of this it effectively costs taxpayers nearly £800,000 for every constant ‘bobby on the beat’. A key priority for Police Chiefs and newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners must be to focus resources on frontline policing. The report has a full breakdown of availability and expenditure by police force.

Read the full report at the TaxPayers' Alliance web site.

Key findings:
  • The forces with the highest share of police visible and available are West Yorkshire Police (16.3 per cent), Cleveland Police (15.8 per cent), Norfolk Constabulary (15 per cent) and Nottinghamshire Police (15 per cent).
  • The forces with the lowest share of police visible and available are City of London (7.2 per cent), Warwickshire Police Force (8.7 per cent), West Midlands (10.0 per cent), Derbyshire Constabulary (10.2 per cent) and the Metropolitan Police (10.2 per cent).
  • The City of London Police and Metropolitan Police have among the highest average costs per officer. For every £10 million spent, the City provides 86 officers and PCSOs (5.5 “visible and available” on average) and the Met provides 98 (8.9 “visible and available”). The City of London Police spends £1,813,871 for every officer or PCSO visible and available while the Met spends £1,120,342. It is worth noting that the City of London police and the Met have specific responsibilities for financial crime and anti-terrorism respectively. This probably reduces the amount of time that officers are able to be visible and available.
Outside London, the police forces with the highest cost per visible and available officer/PCSO are:
  • Warwickshire: £1,224,102 (8.2 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Northamptonshire: £955,968 (10.5 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Wiltshire: £931,846 (10.7 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Derbyshire: £931,826 (10.7 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Surrey: £842,711 (11.9 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
The police forces with the lowest cost per visible and available officer/PCSO are:
  • Northumbria: £475,459 (21 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • West Yorkshire: £521,971 (19.2 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Cleveland: £539,186 (18.5 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Nottinghamshire: £607,041 (16.5 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
  • Norfolk: £616,242 (16.2 visible and available for every £10 million spent on policing)
Peter wrote about the report for ConservativeHome and The Commentator.

The report was covered in The Sun on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and 13 local and online publications.