Community Sentences

The failure of revolving door community sentencing

21 February 2013

ccp-logo-specialResearch from the Centre for Crime Prevention reveals that the current revolving door system of community sentences is failing to protect the public, and is producing higher reoffending rates than all but the shortest prison sentences.

Data from Freedom of Information requests reveals that almost 8,000 criminals sent to prison in 2011/12 had previously been given 11 or more community sentences – and 407 were given 21 or more. More than three quarters of those sent to prison had previously been given at least one community sentence, and more than half of all offenders had previously been given at least one community sentence.

Click here to read the report, including a full regional breakdown

The key findings of the report are:

  • 81,594 (76%) of the 107,688 criminals sent to prison in 2011/12 had previously been given at least one community sentence before later committing the offences that resulted in a prison term. Of these offenders:
  • 68,485 (64%) were given 2 or more community sentences;
  • 37,516 (35%) were given 5 or more;
  • 7,783 were given 11 or more;
  • 1,784 were given 16 or more; and
  • 407 were given 21 or more community sentences
  • 221,405 (54%)of the 407,838 criminals convicted of a criminal offence in 2011/12 had previously been given at least one community sentence
  • 120,546 (30%)were given 3 or more;
  • 91,321 (22%)were given 4 or more; and
  • 51,830 (13%)were given 6 or more community sentences
  • Those sentenced to lengthier prison sentences tend to be the most hardened criminals. Even so, the longer the prison sentence, the lower the reconviction rate – with all but the shortest prison sentences having lower reoffending rates than community sentences. The one year reoffending rate is:
  • 35.6% for all adults given a community sentence – resulting in 123,675 offences
  • 64.1% for adults on a community sentence who were given Supervision and Drug Rehabilitation – resulting in 16,644 offences
  • 30.7% for adults sentenced to between 4 to 10 years in prison (ie serving at least two to five years) – with the prisoner of course unable to commit any offences outside prison while held inside
  • 15.0% for adults sentenced to more than 10 years (ie serving at least five years) – with prisoners committing no offences outside prison while they remain inside
  • 4.7% for adults serving indeterminate and life sentences – with prisoners committing no offences outside prison while they remain inside
  • 90,029 community sentences were given to criminals guilty of more serious indictable offences – and fewer than 1 in 8 (12.4%) of those were for a first offence
  • 66.4% went to those with 3 or more previous convictions
  • 31.0% went to those with 11 or more previous convictions
  • 23.2% went to those with 15 or more previous convictions