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A freedom of information application reveal soft punishments had led to thousands of convicts re-offending

Date: (21 August 2012)    |    

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Nearly 400 criminals every week commit another crime while they were supposed to be doing community service. A shocking figure has revealed that more than 20,000 criminals who were let off or given soft sentences instead of being sent to jail had again committed a crime.
A similar number failed to comply with the terms of their punishments and had to be hauled back before the courts meaning one in four offenders do not comply with their community sentences because they break the rules.
The revelations would bring fresh doubts about the effectiveness of the punishments, which ministers want the courts to use more often.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has ordered a major overhaul of community service to toughen it up but he also criticised the option of short prison terms as it was not effective in rehabilitating the criminals.
Conservative MP Priti Patel said that the public would be alarmed to see the large number of criminals breaching their community sentences and committing more crimes.
Jonathan Isaby of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said that with only two thirds of the community punishment orders were being carried out, the taxpayers could not feel that the system was delivering justice.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that last year 20,121 convicts who were placed on a community punishment order committed another crime while equal numbers had their orders stopped because the subject failed to follow the rules set down by the court, such as unpaid work, meeting their probation officer or attending drug treatment.
Last year it emerged some 50 people fell victim to a violent or sexual attack by a convict who was spared jail. Every year more than 18,000 criminals given a community punishment commit a sexual or violent crime within 12 months of being sentenced.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said most of the offenders were completing their community sentences without re-offending. But since the re-offending rates were too high the criminal justice system was being reformed by properly punishing and root cause of the offender’s behaviour addressed.
He added that the MoJ plans to restore public confidence in community sentences including prohibiting foreign travel and imposing longer, more restrictive curfews.
That it would also make Community Payback more intensive and demanding with unemployed offenders serving longer hours, carrying out purposeful, unpaid activity which benefits their local community.