Research

29,000 criminals avoided prison despite 25 or more previous convictions

Research from the Centre for Crime Prevention reveals the scale of soft justice for prolific offenders, with some criminals avoiding prison despite 300 or more previous convictions or cautions.
Data from Freedom of Information requests shows that almost 112,000 criminals found guilty of at least their sixth offence in 2012 avoided prison. More than 55,000 avoided prison despite 15 or more previous offences - and just under 29,000 avoided prison despite 25 or more previous offences.

The key findings of the report are:
  • 28,997 offenders found guilty of a crime in 2012 avoided prison despite 25 or more previous offences.
  • Each time a repeat offender is convicted, their chance of avoiding prison is at least 50% - until they have committed at least 100 offences. To have less than a 40% chance of avoiding prison they must commit at least 300 offences.
  • Over 110,000 criminals caught for at least 6 offences are benefiting from soft sentencing:
    • 111,783 criminals found guilty of a crime in 2012 avoided prison despite 5 or more previous offences.
    • 88,967 criminals avoided prison despite 8 or more previous offences.
    • 55,683 criminals avoided prison despite 15 or more previous offences.
  • The majority of the country’s most prolific criminals avoided prison despite their previous offences often numbering in the triple figures.
    • 5,692 offenders found guilty of a crime in 2012 avoided prison despite 50 or more previous offences.
    • 1,474 avoided prison after 75 or more previous offences.
    • 523 avoided prison after 100 or more previous offences.
    • 198 avoided prison after 150 or more previous offences.
    • 65 avoided prison after 200 or more previous offences.
    • 26 avoided prison after 250 or more previous offences.
    • 8 avoided prison after 300 or more previous offences.
  • Contrary to claims that women are treated more harshly by the courts, male criminals with either one or two previous convictions or cautions are more than twice as likely as women criminals to go to prison. Male criminals are also:
    • 93% more likely to go to prison after 8 previous offences;
    • 34% more likely to go to prison after 30 - 39 previous offences; and
    • 9% more likely to go to prison after 50 - 59 previous offences.

  • The areas of the country with the highest percentage of criminals avoiding prison are:

Criminal justice area
Percentage of all persons sentenced who avoided prison (2012)
Persons who avoided prison (2012)
1
Northumbria
96.0
                       46,647
2
Warwickshire
95.5
                       11,279
3
Lincolnshire
94.7
                       14,911
4
Dyfed-Powys
94.4
                         9,556
5
Wiltshire
94.2
                         8,762
6
Suffolk
94.1
                       14,100
7
Dorset
93.8
                       11,453
8
Surrey
93.8
                       16,500
9
Hertfordshire
93.6
                       20,983
10
Bedfordshire
93.4
                       13,940
§  The areas of the country with the greatest number of criminals avoiding prison are:

Criminal justice area
Persons sentenced who avoided prison (2012)
Percentage who avoided prison (2012)
1
London
200,215
91.3
2
Greater Manchester
65,299
91.2
3
West Midlands
53,579
88.8
4
Northumbria
46,647
96.0
5
West Yorkshire
44,826
91.6
6
South Wales
37,753
91.6
7
Lancashire
37,558
92.7
8
Merseyside
35,166
92.5
9
Thames Valley
34,626
92.4
10
Hampshire
30,830
92.2


Media
To discuss the research or arrange broadcast interviews, please contact the author, Peter Cuthbertson:
07590 033189

Notes to editors
1. The Centre for Crime Prevention is a campaign for an evidence-based approach to sentencing and policing. The web site is www.centreforcrimeprevention.com. The CCP aims to:
·         uncover the facts about how many serious and repeat offenders avoid prison every year
·         counter naive wishful thinking that puts vulnerable people at risk by failing to incarcerate those who are a danger to others
·         support beat-based zero tolerance policing
·         put victims of crime and law abiding citizens first

2. The full report can be downloaded from here.

3. All data is taken from Freedom of Information requests to the Ministry of Justice, or from published MOJ statistics.

The failure of revolving door community sentencing
21 February 2013

Research 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.


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
§  The areas of England and Wales with the highest one year reconviction rates by adults given community sentences or a suspended sentence are:

1
Durham Tees Valley
44.1%
2
Northumbria
43.2%
3
Lancashire
39.0%
4
York and North Yorkshire
37.8%
5
West Mercia
37.2%
6
Nottinghamshire
36.9%
7
Cumbria
36.7%
8
Wales
36.1%
9
Hampshire
35.6%
10
Norfolk and Suffolk
35.6%

§  The areas with the greatest number of reoffences by adults given community sentences or a suspended sentence are:

1
London
18,097 reoffences
2
Wales
11,592
3
Greater Manchester
10,732
4
Staffordshire and West Midlands
9,454
5
West Yorkshire
8,277
6
Northumbria
7,957
7
Durham Tees Valley
7,494
8
Lancashire
6,416
9
Hampshire
5,541
10
Surrey and Sussex
5,228


The Sentencing Gap: punishment for serious, repeat offenders

17 January 2013

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.


Visible and available policing: the most and least efficient forces
1 January 2013


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.